At least 5,498 children have been left alone in Sichuan Province's quake zone, either because they have been orphaned or their parents cannot be located, Xinhua learned from a meeting of the State Council disaster relief headquarters held at Chengdu on Sunday night.
Some of the parents might be migrant workers elsewhere in China who have been unable to return home to the disaster zone, as Sichuan is a major source of migrant labor.
Also, 4,797 elderly people are alone, either because the rest of their family was killed or they have been separated from all their relatives, the headquarters said.
Officials said they have assigned staff to take care of these children and elderly, and help them to look for their families.
The death toll from the powerful earthquake rose to 62,664 as of midday on Sunday, and 23,775 others are still missing, according to the State Council Information Office.
(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2008)