Though reports are varied, it now appears that the current death from the Wenchuan earthquakes is somewhere between 17,000 and 20,000 (latter figure from the Time China Blog, although most of the media is still reporting the official count at a more conservative 15,000. It’s still to0 early to say just how high that figure will climb once everything is said and done, but an earlier Time’s estimate put that number at around 100,000 (their man Austin Ramzy is there right now). While we hope that this isn’t the case, we can see why they would say that, because other sources put the amount of buried or missing at between 27,000 and a staggering 60,000, and time is running out to get these people out.
Concerns are also mounting concerns about further destruction resulting from breached dams in the regions hardest hit. The Zipingpu dam was cracked during the quakes and authorities are scrambling to prevent a full-scale rupture that might endanger the 600,000 residents living upstream near the already devastated town of Dujiangyan. Some 2,000 troops have been sent to attempt repairs, according to the Telegraph. Other sources indicate that as many as 400 dams have been damaged by the tremors.
Xinhua: Breakdown of casualties by region
Casualty breakdown by region [in Chinese and upated real-time]
AP: Troops rush to plug dam cracks