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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 12:22 GMT
Indian quake operations concentrate on survivors

Four days after a devastating earthquake struck the Indian state of Gujarat, hope is fading of finding many more people alive in the rubble.

Efforts are focussing instead on the need to cremate the thousands of dead to prevent the spread of disease. Funeral pyres have been burning continuously all over the state but, with many bodies still to be recovered, correspondents say the smell of decomposition is almost unbearable. Relief supplies to Gujarat are also being stepped up. Many hospitals are treating people in the open air, and some doctors say they have run out of bandages and other medical supplies. As tens of thousands of people flee the area, security forces reported some cases of looting.

But amid all the misery, rescuers continue to have their efforts rewarded -- a woman and her one-year-old baby were pulled almost unscathed from the rubble of a collapsed building, as was a young man who'd spent a-hundred-and-three hours without food or water. The Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandez, has said the number of dead might eventually reach one-hundred-thousand, but Gujarati officials are confining their estimates to twenty-thousand.

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