More than 300 children believed to be orphaned by the Sichuan earthquake have been sent to 30 hospitals in Chengdu in the past week. Most of them have no idea where their parents are. In Mianyang , at least 1,500 children rescued from collapsed buildings in nearby Beichuan and Pingwu counties, where the earthquake killed more than 11,800 people, have lost contact with their families. While relief organisations in Chengdu estimate the growing number of quake orphans in Sichuan could surpass 15,000, the province's civil affairs bureau said it could not give exact numbers because it could not say for sure if some children had just temporarily lost contact with their relatives. Although orphans and other child survivors of the quake are at high risk of psychological trauma and need special care, they have been treated in relief camps or wards for adults. In Mianyang , children without parents were simply left at Jiuzhou Stadium to live with the 40,000 other victims in soiled tents that lack basic sanitary conditions such as showers and flush toilets. Volunteers outfitted in masks and rubber gloves have tried to prevent epidemics by spraying disinfectant. In Chengdu's West China Hospital, the understaffed paediatric department did not have the resources to counsel children who had probably been orphaned. Most nurses had to tend to six children at the same time with untrained volunteers as their only helpers. Hu Yulong , a three-year-old boy rescued from Yingxiu county and apparently orphaned, said he wanted to escape from the hospital because it would soon collapse. There has been no word on his parents since he was rescued from under the remains of his home. Nurses and volunteers know they need to be careful as even a slight shake of the bed with a knee can scare the traumatised children. Smiles have been rare on the face of two-year-old Yang Yan since she was rescued from Hongbai county in Shifang . Paediatric nurses said the child, who has been waiting for parents to take her home, was more desensitised than most children her age. Psychologists said mental trauma brought by the quake could affect children's personalities and mental health for the rest of their lives and lead to a much higher suicide rate. Zhong Hang, a director for the China programme of Save the Children UK, urged authorities to create a sense of normality for parentless children staying in hospitals or stadiums. The organisation said the earthquake occurred when many children were at school and the timing could potentially have dire long-term effects on their educational performance as they no longer associated school with safety. But the relief camps and hospitals in Sichuan said the only thing they could do was to feed the children. 'It's nearly impossible to help children locate their relatives, or give psychological support. There are just too many kids,' a volunteer said.