Beijing (AFP) May 10, 2011
China has spent nearly 800 billion yuan ($123 billion) to rebuild areas in the southwest that were devastated by a massive earthquake three years ago, senior officials said Tuesday.
Nearly 3,000 schools and more than 1,200 health care facilities have so far been rebuilt or renovated in quake-ravaged areas of Sichuan, along with millions of houses, provincial vice-governor Wei Hong told reporters.
"The economic development of the disaster-hit areas and the living conditions of the people have basically been restored to or outperformed the levels before the earthquake," he said.
An 8.0-magnitude quake rocked Sichuan and parts of neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces on May 12, 2008, leaving nearly 87,000 people dead or missing.
China's State Council, or cabinet, in September 2008 issued a plan to rebuild 51 quake-struck counties covering 130,000 square kilometres (50,200 square miles), the official Xinhua news agency said.
Mu Hong, a vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, said that work on 95 percent of the reconstruction projects in the plan had been completed.
He called the restoration and reconstruction of the quake-hit areas a "decisive victory".
earlier related report
"The final countdown has started," Wang Chao-hung, better known to his followers and the public as "Teacher Wang", told AFP in the central Taiwanese town of Puli, home to about 80,000 people.
The 54-year-old said a 14-magnitude killer quake would strike the island at 10:42:37 Wednesday morning (0242 GMT), killing at least one million people.
"It will have enormous consequences for most countries around the Pacific," Wang said.
Five days later, the island, together with many parts of the Pacific area, will be hit by a tsunami featuring 170-metre (560-foot) waves, he warned.
In expectation of these cataclysmic events, he has set up a shelter in Puli, converting more than 30 cargo containers into makeshift homes, stockpiling them with enough rice, bottled water and fuel to last for several weeks.
As of late Tuesday, it was unclear whether Wang had persuaded anyone to move into the containers, but the otherwise quiet town had attracted dozens of journalists, some of them reporting live from the area.
Wang has advised people to stay in cargo containers, which he says will be safer than regular buildings once the alleged catastrophe happens.
The prediction, which has caused widespread media attention over the past week, has prompted prosecutors to launch an investigation into an alleged fraud case.
Investigators are looking into the theory that Wang might be cooperating with businesses in the container industry, a charge he has flatly denied.
Fraud convictions carry a maximum five-year jail term while breaking the law on social order is punished by a fine of up to Tw$30,000 ($1,000), prosecutors say.
A weather bureau spokesman has said that "issuing unauthorised forecasts on earthquakes is punishable by a fine" of up to Tw$1 million ($33,000).
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New Zealand is set to post its worst-ever deficit this year, as the country faces a mammoth bill from two major earthquakes in Christchurch, Finance Minister Bill English said Tuesday. Speaking after the IMF estimated the Christchurch tremors would have a greater impact on New Zealand's economy than the recent Japanese disaster on Tokyo's finances, English said the country had to cut its deb ... read more
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