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Beijing Builds Emergency Asylum for Victims of Serious Disasters

"Emergency asylum" -- the words on a newly erected big green board at Yuandadu Park (park on the city wall ruins of the capital of Yuan Dynasty [1271-1368]) aroused the curiosity of passers-by. Why a park is turned into an emergency haven? Does this mean that any disasters would soon to happen in Beijing? Having learned the reason why this shelter is established, Beijing residents could not help but keep applauding the move. 

An expert from the Beijing Seismological Bureau explained that putting up the brass plate of the "Emergency Asylum" must not be interpreted as a warning of impending disasters, but rather it is an act to implement "Beijing Municipality's Measures to Enforce the 'Law of the People's Republic of China for Precaution against Earthquake and Reduction of Natural Disasters'" and "Beijing Municipality's Park Regulations", with the support of the municipal government leaders and the National Seismological Administration, the Yuandadu Park becomes the first pilot unit for the construction of an emergency asylum in Beijing which, in turn, has become the nation's first city for the construction of the emergency asylum and the hanging of its brass plate. The completed Yuandadu Park will formally open to the public on October 1.

Once a disaster occurs, like an earthquake or a conflagration, urbanites living densely in "concrete jungles" must be rapidly evacuated and replaced under the organization of the government and the supply of their daily necessities must be guaranteed. Construction of the emergency asylum is precisely a facility built beforehand out of safety considerations.

The trial construction of the site is carried out at the Chaoyang (a district of Beijing) section of the park, which covers an area of 600,980 square meters and can hold a maximum of 253,300 people, providing shelter mainly for residents of four neighborhoods -- Asian Games Village, Xiaoguan, Anzhen and Heping Street.

The park has a lush growth of grass and trees, if it was not due to the existence of the indicating board, perhaps people could see it no different from an ordinary one. But if they make a closer observation, they can discover some supportive facilities closely related with emergency shelters, that's what experts call the lifeline project, which have now been finished.

For example, the site is equipped with underground water pipelines and wires to satisfy temporary needs. Above the ground it is installed not only with public telephone, fire-fighting equipment, the mouth of a well, makeshift toilets and material storage, but it also has reserved places for relief command center, sanitation and anti-epidemic station and shack-dwelling area, even a parking apron is specially set up to ensure the need of emergency traffic.

The trial construction of the emergency shelter in the park is only the first step, which will be followed by the building of such same facilities in Beijing's eight districts and even in a wider area, says Xu Ping, deputy director of the Beijing Seismological Bureau. It is reported that a plan for such emergency shelters is in the making. Divided in accordance with the locations of communities, all residents are ensured to have their appropriate shelters.

(People's Daily September 29, 2003)

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