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. Nearly 200 officials punished over China quake relief: state media

File image courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 10, 2008
China has received thousands of complaints over misconduct among officials involved in Sichuan earthquake relief work, resulting in the punishment of nearly 200 cadres, state press said Wednesday.

Twenty Communist Party officials have been sacked while the other 164 cadres punished received unspecified discplinary measures and "administrative penalties," Xinhua news agency said, citing Supervision Minister Ma Wen.

The May 12, 8.0-magnitude earthquake which devastated wide areas of the southwestern province left more than 87,000 people dead or missing.

China's central and local governments have so far allocated 10 billion dollars to reconstruction work, while billions of dollars in foreign aid has also poured in.

Concerns were immediately raised about the use of that money amid rampant corruption in China.

Even President Hu Jintao has said repeatedly that corruption is one of the greatest threats to the legitimacy of the Communist Party.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly sought to assure the billions of dollars going to quake relief work would not be siphoned off through corruption, and Wednesday's report from Xinhua continued that theme.

"Senior Chinese officials have called for tighter supervision of quake relief work and warned repeatedly that corruption, embezzlement or misuse of relief resources would incur severe punishment," the report said.

It did not elaborate on the nature of the violations in the quake relief work other than saying some donations had been misused, while other funds were not allocated.

The report said authorities had received 15,746 complaints with over 10,000 of them investigated as of August 29.

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US renews offer to send aid team to Cuba after Hurricane Ike
Washington (AFP) Sept 9, 2008
The United States on Tuesday renewed an offer to send experts to Cuba to see how much more disaster US aid is needed to an island hit by yet another hurricane, the State Department said.

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