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China's quake reconstruction to cost nearly 150 billion dollars: govt

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 14, 2008
Nearly 150 billion dollars are needed to rebuild areas in southwest China devastated by a massive earthquake in May, the government said on Thursday.

The 51 worst-hit counties and cities will need about one trillion yuan (145.7 billion dollars), said the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, in a statement on its website.

That was more than one fifth of the 4.9 trillion yuan of tax revenue that the government was able to collect nationwide last year.

A total of 4,432 primary and middle schools and 169 hospitals are to be rebuilt, according to a reconstruction plan posted on the NDRC's website.

The 59-page plan was put online in order to solicit opinions and suggestions from the public. The deadline for input from citizens is August 24.

"We will make the reconstruction of public service facilities such as schools and hospitals our priority... and turn them into extremely safe and solid structure that the public can feel reassured about," said the plan.

The central government has set aside a 10-billion-dollar budget this year for reconstruction after the earthquake, or roughly a quarter of the money spent in preparations for the Olympics being held this week in Beijing.

The magnitude-8.0 earthquake that struck southwest China on May 12 left 88,000 people dead or missing and caused direct economic losses of 843.8 billion yuan in the 51 counties and cities, according to government figures.

An estimated 7,000 schools were destroyed or damaged, and about 9,000 students and teachers were killed.

Suspicions that corruption was a factor in the flawed construction triggered calls by grief-stricken parents for probes into the collapses.

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Teacher sent to labour camp for China quake photos
Beijing (AFP) July 30, 2008
A teacher in southwest China has been sent to a labour camp for publicising photos of school buildings that collapsed in the devastating May 12 earthquake, a rights group said Wednesday.

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