Beijing, Apr 26: Death toll in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has risen to 17 in the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit neighbouring Nepal yesterday, while the Communist giant on Sunday dispatched a 62-member search and rescue team to help the Himalayan nation.
Nearly 1,500 people, including two Indians, have died in Nepal and hundreds are feared missing, after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake tore through that country flattening houses and buildings including the iconic Dharhara tower and landmark Darbar Square in the heart of its capital. [Nepal earthquake: As it happened]
The death toll in Tibet has climbed to 17 after the powerful earthquake struck neighbouring Nepal, local authorities said today.
Meanwhile a 62-member search and rescue team has left for Nepal to carry out humanitarian rescue there. With six sniffer dogs and relevant rescue and medical equipment, the team is expected to arrive in Kathmandu midday today on a chartered plane, the China Earthquake Administration said.
Of the rescuers, 40 are from the 38th Group Army of the People's Liberation Army, Beijing Military Area Command.
20 percent of the experienced rescuers have participated in international rescue missions. Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday sent a message of condolence to Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav over the disastrous earthquake, worse in over 80 years of Nepal's recorded history.
On behalf of the Chinese government and people, as well as in his own name, Xi offered his deep condolences to the victims in the earthquake, and offered sincere sympathies to those injured as well as to the families of the victims.
In his message, the Chinese president also expressed his confidence in the Nepalese government, under the leadership of Yadav, to combat the disaster and China's willingness to provide all necessary assistance.
In Tibet the quake also damaged buildings and roads and cut off telecommunications in the two counties and several neighbouring regions.
So far, roads leading to the two counties have been cleared, but rescue efforts are hampered by heavy snow in the area.
The temblor damaged several temples in Tibet's border area, but no casualties have been reported from there so far.
Chen Quanguo, Communist Party of China chief of Tibet, has ordered to evacuate people in the quake-hit regions to avoid further deaths and injuries from aftershocks and secondary disasters.
About 600 border guards are currently involved in the rescue operation in Nyalam and Gyirong.
A total of 3,204 firefighters and 87 sniffer dogs from Tibet and neighbouring provinces have also been readied to go to the quake-struck areas as a reinforcement.
The authorities are sending tents, quilts, clothes, medicine and bottled water to the regions.