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Wen urges reconstruction in quake-hit Shaanxi, Gansu
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The lives of quake-affected people should basically be back to normal in northwestern China's Shaanxi and Gansu provinces in two months, and reconstruction in the two provinces should be basically completed by 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao has said.

Wen made the remarks during his three-day visits to Shaanxi and Gansu starting from Friday.

"Authorities should continue to stick to the 'people first' policy in their work, and guard against epidemics," Wen said, hailing the two provinces' efforts in reconstruction work since the May 12 earthquake.

"I hope that life of the quake-affected people in Shaanxi and Gansu can be basically restored in two months from now, while reconstruction in the two provinces can be completed in two years, " he said.

Wen said the main focus of reconstruction in Shaanxi and Gansu is to repair and rebuild damaged peasant housing. More than 1.4 million rural houses in the two provinces were flattened by the major quake, affecting millions of local farmers.

The new buildings must be safe, economical, and less land-consuming, with safety as the top concern, according the premier, who added that schools, hospitals, and other public buildings must meet the highest safety standards.

In the meantime, Wen Jiabao said, efforts should be made to ensure the resumption of economic development in the quake zones. Authorities should make extra efforts in reconstruction work in poverty-stricken counties in the quake zones, to help with their economic development.

Wen also called on local authorities to be ready for aftershocks, mud flow and landslides, and to limit casualties.

The 66-year-old premier visited quake-affected people in the badly-hit Lueyang County in Shaanxi Province Friday afternoon, and urged people to resume farming while rebuilding their lost homes.

He then visited students at a middle school and encouraged them to work harder and devote themselves to the development of their hometowns.

Wen also inspected reconstruction work in Gansu's Longnan city on Saturday.

"I had worked in Gansu Province for 14 years and the people here are hardworking, honest and persevering," he told the local residents in a quake-hit village of Kangping County.

The premier praised the local residents for their self-reliance.

In both provinces, he reminded the local officials to make the spending of subsidies from the central and provincial governments in accordance with the farmers' will and make the spendings transparent.

State Councilor Ma Kai accompanied Wen during the visits.

As of Saturday noon, the death toll in the May 12 earthquake had reached 69,181.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)

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