Quake's death toll up; rescuers fight illness

JIEGU, China — Earthquake survivors shivered through a second night outdoors in a remote Tibetan corner of western China with rescuers fighting altitude sickness and dealing with a lack of supplies as the death toll rose to 760.

People with broken arms or legs cried in pain as medical teams could offer little more than injections. A doctor at the Qinghai provincial hospital, where the severely injured were being flown, said she had no idea how many were being treated because there was no time to count them all.

Stunned survivors wandered the dusty streets of Jiegu, where relief workers estimated 70 percent to 90 percent of the low-slung town of wood-and-mud housing had collapsed. Hundreds wrapped in blankets taken from homes shattered by Wednesday morning's quakes gathered to sleep in a plaza around a 50-foot tall statue of the mythical Tibetan King Gesar.

"There's nothing to eat. We've just been drinking water," said Zhaxi Zuoma, a 32-year-old camped with thousands of others on a rocky field. They asked a reporter to bring them food the next day.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 760 people had died, 243 people were missing, and 11,477 were injured, 1,174 severely. The worst of the quakes measured magnitude 6.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey and 7.1 by China's earthquake administration.

Rescue vehicles snaked along the 12-hour drive from the provincial capital into the mountainous region, which still trembled with aftershocks. The altitude averages about 13,000 feet, leaving some rescuers breathless and ill, deputy director for emergency response under the China Earthquake Administration, told reporters in Beijing.

To reinforce official concern for a Tibetan area that saw anti-government protests two years ago, Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Yushu county Thursday evening to meet survivors. President Hu Jintao, in Brazil after visiting Washington, canceled scheduled stops in Venezuela and Peru to come home.