Woman Rescued 9 Days After China Quake; Death Toll Rises Above 41,000

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A woman trapped in a tunnel at a power plant was rescued Wednesday, nine days after an earthquake struck central China.

The woman was found in Hongbai town in Sichuan province, the Xinhua News Agency reported, without giving any further details. She was the first person found alive Wednesday and the only rescue reported in the last 24 hours.

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Some signs of normalcy returned to the quake-hit area, as more schools reopened Wednesday in Sichuan, but rain and a lack of tents underscored the massive task facing the government in sheltering millions left homeless.

Near the epicenter at Chengdu's Qingyang district sports center, 9-year-old Gao Luwei played with friends after attending classes in the camp's one-room elementary school.

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"I don't know how long we'll be here, but I hope we are here the shortest time possible," said Gao, whose regular school in the resort town of Dujiangyan was damaged in the earthquake that killed more than 40,000 people.

Deng Yaping, four-time Olympic gold medalist in table tennis and an organizer with the Beijing Olympics, was shown on state TV talking to schoolchildren in Mianyang, north of the provincial capital, Chengdu.

Two big tents were set up on basketball courts to serve as a school, but each class met for only an hour because of the lack of space.

"It is different from our school but the teacher is very nice. We don't have homework now so we can play," said Li Hong, whose school further north in Beichuan was destroyed.

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An official said it was important for children to return to their established routines of school and play to help overcome the trauma of loss.

"The most important thing is to return some semblance of normalcy to the kids' lives," said Zhu Jiang, a Chengdu city official. "We don't want them to feel like they're refugees, but like they've simply moved to another place for a sort of extended holiday."

On the last day of a three-day official mourning period for quake victims, a crowd of some 2,000 people in Beijing's Tiananmen Square who had been chanting "Go China!" grew quiet in a display of mourning at 2:28 p.m., the exact time the May 12 quake rattled central Sichuan province.

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The suffering from the earthquake has touched the Chinese public, and prompted more than $1.8 billion in donations from organizations and individuals.

The State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement Wednesday that the country's top anti-corruption office will deal sternly with officials who misuse or delay distribution of relief money.

China has begun moving some of the injured to other provinces for treatment. More than 200 arrived in southern Guangzhou province Wednesday, where local patients gave up their hospital rooms to make space, state TV reported.

The confirmed death toll from the earthquake rose to 41,353, Cabinet spokesman Guo Weimin said Wednesday. Another 32,666 remained missing. The government has previously said the final deaths will surpass 50,000.

State-owned companies suffered losses worth $4.29 billion in the disaster, Li Rongrong, chairman of the state body that oversees the enterprises, told reporters in Beijing.

Officials said earlier this week that all companies had been hit with $9.5 billion in losses from the quake.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan government-in-exile called for a temporary stop to anti-China protests "to express our solidarity" to quake victims, according to a Tuesday evening statement.

The quake area is near Tibetan parts of China that saw unrest earlier this year when authorities cracked down on anti-government riots.