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Quake-damaged road to epicenter repaired
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Rescuers finished rush repair on the quake-damaged road from Lixian County to Wenchuan, the epicenter of Monday's massive quake in southwest China, at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

The road was cut off in the 7.8-magnitude quake which has claimed more than 19,000 lives.

The road was part of the national highway No. 317, which runs from Nagqu. in Tibet Autonomous Region, to Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu, with Maerkang, Lixian, Wenchuan, and Dujiangyan along the route.

All the roads into the epicenter were blocked after Monday's quake, making the rescue work difficult. Rescuers had to try to reach the epicenter from four directions.

Workers still had 28 km to go on the road from Shaba to Maoxian, leading to the epicenter from the north, and they had lost contact with the rescue headquarters, He Jianzhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport told a press conference Thursday afternoon.

From the east, reconstruction of the road from Beichuan to Maoxian was interrupted by a fallen bridge about 28 km from the epicenter, he said.

Repair workers managed to remove more than 10,000 cubic meters of mud blocking the road linking the epicenter with Dujiangyan via Yingxiu town on Wednesday, however, collapses and landslides brought another 20,000 cubic meters of mud onto the road on Thursday.

Repair work in the southern route was thus hampered and workers edged forward by just two kilometers on Thursday, He added.

He said the ministry was working to open a supply route, running about 600 kilometers from Chengdu to Ya'an, Maerkang, and then to Lixian and Wenchuan.

The route was to ensure the delivery of disaster relief materials from Chengdu to the epicenter.

Another route for supply delivery was also being prepared, running from Gansu Province to Maoxian via Songpan and Shaba, Sichuan Province.

(Xinhua News Agency May 15, 2008)

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