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Quake's influence on GDP limited
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The devastating earthquake that hit Sichuan Province on May 12 is not expected to have a major effect on the national economy.

Both the State Information Center and the World Bank agree that, despite the devastation in Sichuan and parts of Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, the 8.0-magnitude quake will have limited overall influence on the national economy and will not seriously affect the country's rapid development.

According to a recent report by the State Information Center, a research unit under the National Development and Reform Commission, direct losses caused by the earthquake may total between 400 billion yuan (US$58.1 billion) and 500 billion yuan, with the maximum seen at 514 billion yuan.

The World Bank's latest report said confirmed losses from the earthquake have been 200 billion yuan, with indirect damages much higher. But what is distinctive about the earthquake is not the overall amount of damage, but rather its extreme concentration in small areas, it said.

An estimated 34 million people have been affected by the disaster. Deaths have risen to nearly 70,000 and about 18,000 are still missing while 374,000 have been injured. More than 5.7 million people have been evacuated from their homes.

In agriculture, more than 30,000 hectares of farmland, 100,000 hectares of rice paddies, and a large amount of farming facilities including more than 30,000 farm machines were seriously damaged. The quake also destroyed 7,635 kilometers of irrigation canals, affecting crops on nearly 224,000 hectares of farmland.

In housing, Sichuan Province's government reported that 5.5 million houses have collapsed and that another 5.9 million homes were severely damaged, leaving millions of people homeless. Many more people were reluctant to return to their apartments fearing aftershocks.

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