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Page last updated at 09:15 GMT, Sunday, 18 April 2010 10:15 UK

China president visits quake zone

Hu Jintao comforts a survivor in Qinghai province
President Hu has encouraged rescuers to keep working

Chinese President Hu Jintao has visited survivors of last week's earthquake on a remote Tibetan plateau, as the death toll rose to more than 1,700 people.

A few people are being found alive four days after the quake, including a 68-year-man trapped beneath the rubble.

The Dalai Lama has appealed to China to allow him to make a similar visit.

Officials say people now have basic shelter, food and water, but it is not easy to get supplies to the quake-zone 4,000m (13,000ft) above sea-level.

Also on Sunday, the death toll from Wednesday's 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Qinghai province was raised to 1,706 and 256 missing, the official Xinhua news agency said.

President Hu, cutting short a summit in South America, arrived at Jiegu township, high in the Qinghai mountains, and encouraged rescuers to keep working.

Tibetan Buddhist monks help clear debris amid the rubble of quake demolished buildings in Jiegu
Tibetan Buddhist monks have been a prominent part of the rescue effort

"Rescuing those people who are trapped is still the main task. We must treasure each life," Mr Hu said in Datong Village, state media reported.

One elderly man who had spent 100 hours under the rubble was pulled to safety. His condition is now stable, Xinhua said.

But the emphasis has shifted, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing, as locals and monks have been cremating the dead.

In this Buddhist part of China, the dead are usually left to the elements and vultures, but because so many were killed by the earthquake, traditional ceremonies were not possible and huge funeral pyres were built.

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who was born in Qinghai province, appealed on Saturday to the Chinese authorities to allow him to visit the quake zone, where another 12,000 people were injured and 100,000 made homeless.

It is thought highly unlikely that the Chinese government will agree to his request.

Loved by the people there, he is hated by Beijing, who says his requests for freedom for Tibetans are ploy to achieve independence, our correspondent adds.



SEE ALSO
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China quake rescue effort builds
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Qinghai quake : 'No time to react'
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Qinghai quake: Chinese media reaction
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'No link' between Chinese quakes
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Qinghai: Barren, remote province
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