National code to ease earthquake damage

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China is drafting national building standards that would avoid active earthquake faults, the China Earthquake Administration said on Wednesday.

The technical standards would have detailed criteria for location and construction, and provide suggestions for urban expansions that would reduce potential losses from quakes.

"The draft has been finished, so we can solicit opinions from government departments on urban planning and construction, as well as experts from the industries involved, aiming to finish the whole process as soon as possible," said Xu Xiwei, deputy head of the Institute of Geology under the administration.

Some cities like Haikou, Hainan province, have issued their own technical standards, Xu said.

To reduce the potential devastation of earthquakes, it's important to survey active faults, the administration said. China launched a 10-year plan to survey active faults in 2010, covering major zones prone to earthquakes, it added.

So far, the mapping of 55 major active faults in major regions has been completed, and another 28 active faults are being mapped, the administration said.

In addition, 69 cities and five counties located in major earthquake-prone zones have finished surveying active faults, Xu said.

The surveys detail fault locations and zones where no buildings are allowed, and play a big role in urban planning, Xu said.

For example, Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, expanded to the west instead of the east, as originally planned, because of active faults.

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