A powerful aftershock struck today near the epicenter of this week's earthquake, wreaking more havoc as China struggled to bury its dead and care for thousands of homeless and hungry survivors, Reuters reports. Rescuers continued their search amid the rubble, but hope dimmed as the official death toll rose to more than 22,000. It is expected to exceed 50,000.
The 5.5-magnitude aftershock caused more landslides, but casualties were unknown. President Hu Jintao, meanwhile, flew to the region to rally aid workers. "Quake relief work has entered into the most crucial phase," he told them. "We must make every effort, race against time and overcome all difficulties." In one bright spot, a nurse was pulled from the remains of a clinic where she had been trapped for 96 hours.