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Snow-hit regions now 'stable', damage serious
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A Ministry of Civil Affairs official said on Tuesday that China's snow-hit southern provinces were in stable condition, but the damage remained serious.

The country's post-snow disaster-relief work would focus on taking care of people's basic livelihood and reconstruction, said Wang Zhenyao, director of the disaster alleviation office under the ministry.

A reconstruction plan would be formed before April and basic reconstruction would be finished by the end of June, said Wang during an interview on the central government's website.

He said the reconstruction should reach to the grassroots and "no one shall be ignored".

Wang warned locals against derived disasters and called for proper arrangements for people's livelihood to be restored in the worst-hit provinces. Houses needed to be rebuilt and the reconstruction was urgent.

According to ministry statistics, about 17 million people needed to be subsidized by the government in the worst-hit provinces and areas.

As of Feb. 22, domestic donations for snow-disaster relief exceeded 5 billion yuan (about 685 million U.S. dollars) with more to come, said Wang.

Most donations were collected through charity organizations and campaigns organized by government at different levels, according to Wang.

All the donations would be used to reconstruct the disaster-hit area, the official said.

Wang called for prompt delivery of donated goods and charity to the needy places and simplified reconstruction approvals for the rural residents. "We have to motivate the society and do practical things for the needy," said Wang.

Winter storms have reaped havoc on the country's central, south and southwest since mid-January. The snow disaster claimed 129 lives, devastated 485,000 houses and damaged about 25 million mu in crops (about 1.67 million hectare), leading to a direct economic loss of 151.6 billion yuan (about 20.8 billion U.S. dollars).

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)

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