Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 11:44 UK

Earthquake's impact 'devastating'

Chinese girls sleeping in a refugee camp
Around 10m people have been made homeless

A Somerset aid worker helping the China earthquake relief effort has described the devastation as "unbelievable".

Thomas Lay, 24 from Glastonbury, has been to the epicentre of the quake with the Cornish charity Shelterbox.

He will be delivering 400 boxes which contain essential survival items like tents and water purification tablets.

Shelterbox will hand out 2,500 tents to help millions of people made homeless. The Chinese authorities have said 250,000 tents are needed.

Five million are believed to be staying with relatives while a further five million are living in make-shift homes on tennis courts.

You prepare yourself for piles of rubble but when you see it, it's just something else
Thomas Lay

A total of 51,000 people have died, while 30,000 are reported missing, following the quake on 12 May.

The Chinese military have moved scores of families to the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province.

"The enormity of it is far bigger than anything I have seen before," said Mr Lay.

"I knew what an earthquake would be like, but this is unbelievable. No matter how much I prepared myself, I had no idea it would be quite as bad as what it is."

He is currently travelling 30km from the epicentre trying to find a suitable spot near the mountain in which to put up the tents.

"I've just driven past a building which has now just flattened on top of a rickshaw. I'm now driving past a block of flats which have crumbled completely," he said.

"The devastation is just unbelievable. You prepare yourself for piles of rubble but when you see it, it's just something else."

China quake deaths exceed 51,000
22 May 08 |  Asia-Pacific


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific