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HK, Macao chiefs vow support for quake zone
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Chief Executives of Hong Kong and Macao pledged here Saturday that the two special administrative regions (SAR) governments will help rebuild the earthquake-hit Sichuan Province in various ways.

Hong Kong will focus its assistance on the construction of public and infrastructure facilities, including schools, hospitals, sanatoria and rehabilitation centers for the handicapped, roads and bridges, Chief Executive Donald Tsang told a press conference.

Hong Kong will also participate in rebuilding the breeding base of endangered giant pandas at the Wolong nature reserve, he said.

"There's no time to delay in rebuilding the disaster-hit areas. I will consult with the Legislative Council about how to render help as soon as I return to Hong Kong," he said.

Construction of public and infrastructure facilities in Sichuan will also be the focus of Macao's aid, Macao Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah said.

"The Macao SAR government will allocate special fund in its next five years' budget to help rebuild Sichuan," Ho said.

In the near future, Macao will organize tour groups to visit Sichuan to help the province's tourism recover, and encourage more businesses to invest in Sichuan, he said.

According to the two chief executives, Hong Kong and Macao will respectively set up a coordination mechanism with Sichuan to implement the rebuilding plan.

Government delegations led by Tsang and Ho arrived in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, Friday evening for a three-day trip.

The delegations visited Pengzhou and Dujiangyan on Saturday.

In Pengzhou's Tongji Township Middle School, where more than 2,000 children were studying in prefab houses, the two chief executives entered a classroom and expressed the sympathy of the Hong Kong and Macao people to those affected in the quake.

"The hearts of the Hong Kong and Macao people are always linked with you people in Sichuan. We will do our best to support you in rebuilding your beautiful homes," Ho said.

The 8.0-magnitude quake centered in Sichuan's Wenchuan County on May 12 left more than 80,000 people dead or missing and millions homeless. More than 14,000 aftershocks have been reported after the quake, with the strongest measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.

Hong Kong has donated more than HK$2.1 billion (US$273 million) to the quake-hit areas, and Macao has donated 450 million patacas (US$54 million) in cash and more than 20 million patacas worth of relief supplies.

(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2008)

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