China to complete rebuilding homes destroyed by mudslide in NW China town by next June
2010/08/12

ZHOUQU, Gansu, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities have pledged to complete the reconstruction of all homes destroyed by a devastating mudslide in a remote northwest China town on Sunday by June next year.

"Local authorities will endeavor to complete repairs for all damaged homes by the end of November, and complete rebuilding of all the destroyed homes before winter -- or at the latest, by June next year," a spokesman with the Gannan prefecture government said Thursday.

Citing a circular issued by the provincial government Monday, the spokesman said each mudslide-hit family in rural areas is eligible for a 20,000 yuan (2,941 U.S. dollars) subsidy to rebuild their home if it has been destroyed or 4,000 yuan if their home has been damaged.

Each urban family whose home was destroyed can receive 25,000 yuan, he added.

Some 1,117 were killed in the natural disaster while 627 are still unaccounted for.

Zhouqu County sits in the steep valley of the Bailong River, a tributary of the Jialing River, which meets the Yangtze in Chongqing, and is hemmed in by rocky mountains on both sides.

Torrential rain on Saturday night prompted an avalanche of sludge and debris to crash down on the county seat of Zhouqu, in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gansu Province, early Sunday morning, ripping many houses off their foundations and tearing multi-story apartment buildings in half.

About 45,000 residents have been evacuated after the mudslides destroyed more than 300 homes and damaged another 700. Moreover, some 3,000 homes have been flooded.

Drinking water shortages in the country eased Thursday after rescuers and authorities discovered wells.

But meteorological authorities have warned of more rain in coming days, which may trigger further landslides and hamper rescue efforts.

In addition, heavy rains forecast through to Friday may cause the artificial lake on the Bailong River that formed after it was blocked by debris to overflow and flood the already-devastated areas, putting both survivors and rescuers at risk.

"There will be no slacking. We must protect the town," said Liu Shenghua, the military officer heading a 50-soldier team to patrolling the barrier lake.

Water flowed into some of the temporary shelters in low-lying areas Wednesday night after downpours hit, inconveniencing some survivors.

"We can't lie on the ground to sleep. We have to squat. It's uncomfortable, but it's safe," said Luo Binghong, whose family is living in a tent.

Local authorities said 7,038 tents, 20,000 quilts, 2,000 cotton coats, 5,000 sleeping bags, 8,000 folding beds, 49,000 packages of instant food, 56,000 packages of mineral water, 230 electricity generators, and 5,000 kilograms of flour had arrived in Zhouqu as of noon Wednesday. More supplies are en route.

China has suffered its worst flooding in at least a decade this summer.

Prior to the deadly mudslide in Zhouqu, floods this year had left 1,072 people dead and 619 missing. Direct economic losses are estimated at 210 billion yuan.

 

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