Churches Pray for China's Quake-Hit Qinghai Province

Tens of thousands of Christians in China's Sichuan province prayed and offered donations Sunday for those affected by Wednesday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake in northwest China that killed more than 1,700 people.

The Sichuan Christian Council in China had designated April 18 as a day of prayer and a day to collect special offerings for the relief work in nearby Qinghai province, where 12,128 people were injured and around 100,000 relocated as a result of Wednesday's quake.

According to the Chinese government's official press agency, 256 people were still missing as of Sunday and 1,424 of those injured were in severe condition.

"The top priority is to rescue those still buried alive and to treat the injured. Each life must be cherished," said Chinese President Hu Jintao after arriving Sunday in Yushu county, the area most affected by Wednesday's quake.

"Secondly, we must take good care of the quake-affected local people to make sure they have food to eat, clean water to drink, a place to sleep and clothes to keep warm," the Xinhua News Agency reported Hu as saying.

Also on the president's list was speedy infrastructure construction; relief work and post-quake reconstruction; and the continuation of schooling for children "as soon as possible, even if it has to be in makeshift classrooms."

"There is a lot more work to do and we will continue to make efforts," Hu said.

Though the Sichuan province was not directly affected by the quake in neighboring Qinghai, Wednesday's temblor struck a chord with many in the province, which was hit by a bigger, deadlier quake in 2008.

Coincidentally, Wednesday's earthquake in Qinghai struck roughly one month before the second anniversary of the magnitude-7.9 earthquake in Sichuan that killed nearly 90,000 people.

Following Wednesday's quake, volunteers from the Sichuan Council of Churches headed over to Yushu county, 60 miles away, to help with the relief work there, in coordination with the Qinghai Council of Churches and local partners such as Luzhou City Church.

Also on the ground are World Vision, Caritas Internationalis, and Amity Foundation, among others.

According to Meimei Leung, leader of World Vision's assessment team, adequate shelter and warm clothing for children and families is a key concern as average temperatures in the area have been hovering between -3 to 14 degrees Celsius.

On Friday, the the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said it was providing $50,000 for responses to the April 14 earthquake.

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