Sixty pandas safe after China quake

BEIJING Tue May 13, 2008 7:05am EDT

Panda cubs rest at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, April 17, 2008. REUTERS/Alfred Cheng Jin

Panda cubs rest at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, Sichuan province, April 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Alfred Cheng Jin

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some 60 giant pandas at a Chengdu research centre near the worst hit part of the massive China earthquake are safe, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

But there was no word yet on the fate of pandas at another research centre at Wolong, near the epicentre of Monday's 7.9 magnitude quake.

At least 10,000 people died and the toll is likely to soar following the quake in Sichuan province.

The giant panda is one of the world's most endangered species and is found only in China. It has become an international wildlife symbol and an icon for the Olympic games to be held in Beijing in August.

An estimated 1,600 pandas live in nature reserves in Sichuan province and neighboring Gansu and Shanxi.

(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Ken Wills)

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