First MSF team heading to quake-stricken area in southwest China

Following an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter Scale that struck China's southwestern province of Sichuan yesterday, at 14.28 local time, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is dispatching its first medical team to one of the worst hit areas. According to state media, China's most devastating earthquake in 30 years left nearly 10,000 dead and scores more are feared dead or injured. Roads and communications in Wenchuan, the worst hit county with a population of over 110,000, have been cut off since the earthquake struck, and access to the affected population in this mountainous region is extremely difficult. An MSF team composed of two medical doctors and an administrative assistant will leave for the provincial capital, Chengdu, tonight to assess the immediate needs of the population. At the time of the quake, the team was working in Nanning, Guangxi Province, where MSF has been treating patients with HIV/AIDS since 2003.