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Quake stress leads to mandatory rest for Sichuan officials
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Officials in earthquake-stricken Sichuan Province will be forced to take a vacation before the end of the year to avoid overwork.

The notice issued by the province's Organization Department also requires every official working in earthquake areas to undergo a physical exam, Chengdu Business Daily reported today. A psychological evaluation will also be made to check if any official suffers from emotional trauma, the report said.

Governments in the quake-hit areas can adjust the position of officials still suffering pain and trauma to free them from the stressful environment, according to the notice.

Dong Yufei, 40, an agricultural official in Beichuan County, one of the areas worst-hit by the May 12 earthquake, committed suicide on October 3. He was promoted to director of the Agriculture Office in Beichuan for his outstanding work after the earthquake, the report said.

Dong had not taken a day off work since the disaster and led a rescue team to save and relocate more than 120 people from the debris.

Dong lost his only son and several other relatives in the quake.

Dong left a letter that said he was under too much pressure from life and work, a Xinhua report said. "I can't hold on any more. I want a good rest," he wrote in the letter.

Dong's suicide reflected the great pressure and mental burden most officials faced on a daily basis after the disaster, said Luo Yingguang, head of the municipal publicity department of Mianzhu, another area badly hit by the earthquake.

Luo said most grassroots officials faced a work load at least five times heavier now than before the earthquake.

(Shanghai Daily November 3, 2008)

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