News MIDDAY UPDATE: China: 40,000 dead, 5 million homeless after quake; UGA frat house to be razed; fire scorches part of Florida

Rescuers in China freed a 60-year-old woman today who was trapped for more than 195 hours after last week's earthquake and had survived by drinking rainwater, while the confirmed death toll rose to more than 40,000.

The woman suffered a hip fracture and facial bruises during her eight-day ordeal, which began after a landslide swept away a temple in the city of Pengzhou, Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television reported.

The official Xinhua news agency identified her as Wang Liqun, a retiree, and said she had been unconscious for a day when a falling girder hit her head in the May 12 quake.

The tale of survival came after the confirmed death toll from the disaster rose to 40,075, according to the State Council, China's Cabinet. Officials have said the final number killed by the quake was expected to surpass 50,000.

Five million people lost their homes in the quake, said Jiang Li, vice minister of civil affairs.

The government was setting up temporary housing for victims unable to find shelter with relatives, but there was a "desperate need for tents" to accommodate them, she said.

Nearly 280,000 tents have been shipped to the area and 700,000 more ordered, with factories working triple shifts to meet demand.

The University of Georgia has plans to raze one of its long-standing fraternity houses now that the group is moving to another building.

UGA officials say the boarded up Kappa Alpha fraternity house on the edge of campus will likely become a parking lot for now. Eventually, university administrators plan to erect academic buildings where the Kappa Alpha house and a handful of other fraternity residences stand.

The university notified the groups in 2005 that they would need to find other places to live. The UGA Real Estate Foundation is building housing for some of the relocated fraternities to rent, while others are financing their own homes.

One fraternity, Chi Phi, has refused to move.

– Associated Press

Florida smoky as fire scorches Everglades

A massive and smoky wildfire burned in the Everglades early today, prompting health warnings across South Florida and the evacuation of two detention centers.

Smoke and fog advisories were issued across south Florida. Children, the elderly and people with breathing problems were told to avoid being outdoors.

The fire was burning almost 40,000 acres — or over 62 square miles — of Everglades National Park. Officials hope the rise in humidity will slow its spread.

‘‘Firefighters are in a much better position this morning because it only spread somewhat on Monday,’’ said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Nina Barrow.

Firefighters were battling blazes from Brevard County on the Atlantic coast south to Miami-Dade County that have burned more than 78,000 acres, said Gerry LaCavera, a wildfire spokesman with the state Division of Forestry.– Associated Press

China stands still to mourn quake victims

China stood still today in mourning over tens of thousands of earthquake victims, and the government appealed for more international aid to cope with the country’s deadliest disaster in a generation.

Construction workers, shopkeepers and bureaucrats across the bustling nation of 1.3 billion people paused for three minutes at 2:28 p.m. — exactly one week after the magnitude 7.9 quake hit central China.

Air-raid sirens and the horns of cars and buses sounded in memory of the dead. Rescuers searching for signs of life among the rubble paused briefly then continued to dig but hopes for finding survivors a week after the disaster were growing slim.

Further adding to the tragedy, state news reported that more than 200 workers who had been repairing quake-shattered roads in Sichuan province were buried over the past three days by mudslides.

An official confirmed mudslides had caused some deaths but gave no details.

‘‘The total death toll is still being counted,’’ said the official at the Sichuan provincial Communications Department who only gave his last name, Shi.More potential landslides were predicted by the Central Meteorological Observatory, with heavy rains forecast this week for some areas close to the epicenter.– Associated Press


— The Rev. Al Sharpton is in Macon today in support of Onslow Ross, the convicted pastor of Reaching Souls Cathedral of Praise Apolostolic Church. Come back to our Web site tonight to find out what he says.

— Columnist Ed Grisamore will tell you about 18-year-old Middle Georgia twins who are graduating at the top of their class.


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