Hague 'saddened' over China quake

The Foreign Secretary has expressed his condolences to the victims of the deadly earthquake that has hit China's Sichuan province as British aid workers sent life-saving supplies to those affected.

William Hague said he was "saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life and destruction" left by the quake, which was measured at magnitude 7.0 by China's seismological bureau and has left at least 156 people dead.

Mr Hague said in a statement: "I offer my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones and to all Chinese citizens affected. Today's events will no doubt bring back terrible memories of the catastrophic earthquake in the same province in 2008.

"My thoughts are also with the Chinese authorities and the emergency services as they continue their rescue efforts. We are in contact with local authorities through our Consulate-General in Chongqing and will continue to follow the situation closely."

World Vision said it is distributing hygiene kits and child-friendly kits to families made homeless while a British Red Cross spokesman said the charity is mobilising 5,000 kits of household items, 5,000 quilts, 5,000 warm jackets and 1,200 tents for the earthquake survivors.

International development organisation Plan International said it was sending supplies including more than 6,000 hygiene packs and 1,500 items of clothing. Tents to provide temporary shelter are also being sent as part of the relief effort to help the more than 5,500 people feared to have been injured.

The earthquake struck the steep hills of Lushan county shortly after 8am local time, triggering landslides and leaving thousands of homes destroyed.

British athlete Joe Evans said he felt earth tremors and saw buildings shaking in the provincial capital of Chengdu, 70 miles away. The 19-year-old University of Bath student was in the country to compete in the Modern Pentathlon World Cup, where he finished in 20th place.

Merry Zou, an emergency affairs officer with World Vision in China, said: "I talked to my mother right after the earthquake hit. She said this earthquake felt much stronger than the one in 2008. She ran and hid in the bathroom, but my grandmother couldn't get out of her bed because the shaking was so strong."

More than 90,000 people were killed when a devastating 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the region in May 2008. World Vision said it then helped an estimated 2.2 million people rebuild their lives.

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