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Telecommunications resume in hard-hit areas
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Telecom services in counties and towns most devastated by the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province have resumed operation, since engineers reconnected cables and established temporary base stations, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MII) said.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake damaged 26,809 base stations, and telecommunications in seven counties, including Wenchuan, Maoxian and Beichuan, were totally cut off.

The quake impacted more than 14,000 companies in Sichuan, causing 67 billion yuan ($9.6 billion) in direct losses, Xi Guohua, vice-minister of MII, said. About 32,000 repair workers have been sent to quake-ravaged areas. However, destroyed roads have hindered the repair work.

The ministry has been airdropping workers and telecom equipment to areas not yet accessible, Xi said. Most repair workers have been braving frequent aftershocks, landslides and torrential rain.

Repair worker Liu Jianqiu was killed on the job by a landslide on May 16.

"It is a race against time, or, I would rather say, against death," Xi said.

"The resumption of normal communication capabilities is vital to the rescue work."

Four people were rescued from rubble in Mianzhu county after telecommunications were restored, and they called for help on their mobile phones.

(China Daily June 2, 2008)

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