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Hard-hit county to be rebuilt on a new site
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Beichuan, one of the worst-hit areas in the May 12 quake, will be rebuilt on a new site, Xinhua reported on Wednesday quoting local authorities.

The location has not been decided, but it is likely to be on the flat land of neighboring Anxian county, 20 km from the current site, an official with the Sichuan provincial government said.

"Safety is the top priority in selecting a location," said Beichuan Party chief Song Ming. "We plan to build a monument and a memorial to commemorate the quake victims on the current site."

The current county seat, surrounded by mountains ranging up to 1 km high, was practically leveled in the magnitude-8 quake. About 70 percent of the buildings were destroyed, and "not a single building is safe", said Song.

More than 8,600 of the 13,000 people in the county seat were killed in the quake.

"It is impossible to rebuild the county seat at the original location or nearby," Song said.

The provincial government has finished a draft plan for the reconstruction of Beichuan, said a provincial government official who did not want to be named.

Meanwhile, rescuers were evacuated from Beichuan on Wednesday because of fear of a lake bursting after heavy rain started on Tuesday afternoon.

A landslide last Thursday blocked Jianjiang River that runs around Beichuan, forming a 40-m deep lake near the county seat.

The lake was considered dangerous on Wednesday because of continuous aftershocks and rain.

"Only a small group of soldiers are staying behind to monitor the water level in the lake," a local police officer said, adding the area has been cordoned off.

"Most members of the rescue and medical teams, policemen and volunteers have been evacuated," he told China Daily.

The threat of an epidemic was another factor behind the evacuation, the officer said, adding that people and vehicles leaving the town were sterilized although medical workers were spraying disinfectants over the debris.

(China Daily May 22, 2008)

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