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Quake in SW China may cause 150 bln yuan in direct economic losses
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According to a Chinese scientist, the earthquake in Wenchuan, southwest China's Sichuan Province, the most calamitous disaster ever since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, seriously damaged roads, bridges, tunnels, towns, schools, apartments, communication and other infrastructure. Estimates show that direct losses from the earthquake may amount up to 150 billion yuan. Fortunately, experts stated that this would not affect the overall Chinese economy.

Statistics indicate that the Wenchuan earthquake is the largest and the most destructive earthquake in China since 1949. The Wenchuan earthquake has wreaked devastation over an area of 100,000 square kilometers; its 8.0 magnitude was stronger than the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. By 12 AM, May 19, more than 34,073 people have been confirmed dead, with 245,108 injured in Wenchuan, Sichuan.

Professor Niu Wenyuan, a counselor to the State Council and chief scientist of Sustainable Development Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated that the Wenchuan earthquake was more serious than the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. Now considered the country's most devastating quake, it has created the largest economic losses since 1949.

According to various analyses, the total number casualties and missing may reach 50,000; estimates for the injured are between 250,000 to 300,000. According to available preliminary information, the earthquake has engendered direct losses of between 130 to 150 billion yuan, or equal to 70% to 75% of the total losses sustained in the last 10 years due to natural disasters in China.

Niu Wenyuan said that, from the number of casualties, property losses, infrastructure damage, reconstruction, and restoration of production, the magnitude of the Wenchuan earthquake, has greatly impacted the Chinese economy. But China's major economic activities are diverse in number and geography, with primary economic output coming from eastern and central regions. Therefore, although Sichuan's Wenchuan earthquake indeed created a tremendous negative impact, it will not affect China's overall economic situation.

"Generally speaking, the Wenchuan earthquake won't affect the overall Chinese economy, and it will not affect China's sweeping economic trends," Niu Wenyuan said.

The professor also pointed out that the areas of Wenchuan, Beichuan, and Dujiangyan are seriously devastated by the quake. It will take three to four years to re-catch the pre-disaster economic level. The quake has brought up a chain of problems to be solved concerning electricity, water supplies, transportation, telecommunications, tunnels and reservoirs. This, coupled with the disaster area's location, geological characteristics, geomorphological features, and other factors, indicates that the cost of future reconstruction will be high, and that rebuilding infrastructure will be difficult.

(China.org.cn by Yan Xiaoqing May 20, 2008)

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