The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) launched a 2.5 billion yuan (364 million U.S. dollars) reconstruction aid projects in the May 12 quake-devastated Sichuan Province on Thursday.
As the first phase of the aid project, the RCSC will provide 130 million yuan to Deyang City, a worst-hit area, to build nine new villages, six schools, 13 health centers and 21 supporting facilities for the new villages.
On Thursday, the RCSC-funded Huangxu Primary School in Deyang's Jingyang District began construction.
Jiang Yiman, the RCSC executive vice president, said the organization signed a memorandum with the Sichuan provincial government on Wednesday, pledging to help with the construction of farmers' houses, village health stations, township hospitals and schools and community disaster prevention and relief facilities.
Official figures showed the earthquake toll in Sichuan and its neighboring region was 69,225 as of Thursday noon with 17,924 missing.
The government spending on disaster relief and reconstruction had topped 64.4 billion yuan (about 9.4 billion U.S. dollars), including 57.41 billion yuan from the central budget and 6.998 billion yuan from the local budget.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, domestic and foreign donations had reached 59.27 billion yuan in cash and goods by Thursday noon. Of this, 23.82 billion yuan had been forwarded to quake-hit areas.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)