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IOC president Rogge sends letter to Chinese president

5/13/2008

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The president of the IOC sent a letter of condolence to Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday following an earthquake in the host country that left more than 8,700 dead.

"We send our deepest felt condolences for the victims," International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge wrote. "The Olympic movement is at your side, especially during these difficult moments. Our thoughts are with you."

The 7.9-magnitude quake toppled buildings, schools and a chemical plant in central China. Untold numbers were trapped in mounds of concrete, steel and earth in the worst quake in three decades.

"This appears to be a major disaster, the scale of which is only just becoming apparent," Rogge said in a statement. "I feel deeply for those affected and join in solidarity with the people of China."

The IOC said messages also have been sent to Beijing organizing committee president Lui Qi.

In Beijing, where hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors are expected for the Olympics in August, stadiums, arenas and other venues for the games were undamaged.

Li Jiulin, a top engineer on the 91,000-seat National Stadium -- known as the Bird's Nest and the jewel of the Olympics -- was conducting a site inspection when the quake struck. He said the building was designed to withstand a 8.0 quake.

"The Olympic venues were not affected by the earthquake," said Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing organizing committee. "We considered earthquakes when building those venues."