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Garbled Report on Sichuan Death Toll Revives Pain

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Coventina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-21-08 10:01 AM
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Garbled Report on Sichuan Death Toll Revives Pain
Source: New York Times

BEIJING The news conference on Friday was meant to explain how far the government has come in helping victims of the earthquake that devastated Sichuan Province last May. More than 200,000 homes have been rebuilt, 685,000 are under reconstruction and $441 billion will be spent in the coming years to help make Sichuan whole again, Wei Hong, the provincial vice governor told reporters.

But a garbled translation of Weis words ended up shifting public attention from reconstruction efforts to unresolved questions about how many children perished beneath the rubble of their poorly built schools.

Asked about the final student death toll by a foreign reporter, Wei gave a lengthy answer that ended with the figure 19,065 more than double previous estimates and one that would suggest that a quarter of earthquake victims were children. Lest there be any doubt, the official English translation of Weis remarks placed the word student after the figure 19,065.

The news was immediately picked up by the foreign and Chinese media. Within hours it was even posted on the central governments main Web site. In a country where official statistics are often taken with a grain of salt, the figure seemed like a stunningly frank admission that the earthquakes toll on children had been even more horrific than anyone imagined.



Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/22/world/asia/22quake.ht...
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