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Quake-hit seminary to rise again
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A 100-year-old Catholic seminary destroyed in the May 12 earthquake will be rebuilt on its original site in Sichuan province.

"Experts on ancient buildings from Beijing and Chengdu have started drawing up a reconstruction plan. Original building materials will be used as much as possible to restore the seminary," said an official from the Sichuan cultural relics protection bureau.

The Bailu Upper Academy, the first Catholic seminary in southwest China, was built in 1908 in Bailu Town, in Pengzhou, Sichuan. Most of the seminary was destroyed in the May 12 quake.

Rubble and broken pillars were all that was left. The seminary was previously a three-story building covering 18,000 square meters, but only 2 percent of the building survived the quake, said residents.

The local government set aside a nearby field to store bricks, tiles, fences and other parts of the seminary, and appointed a local Catholic named Tang Min earlier this week to look after the remains.

"Not a single brick can be taken, because they are all cultural relics," said Tang.

Hundreds of places of worship were toppled in Sichuan by the earthquake, and their reconstruction will take a long time, said Yu Xiaoheng, deputy director of the Sichuan provincial bureau of religion.

A total of 83 of the 128 State-level cultural heritage sites were damaged in the quake, including the Dujiangyan UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)

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