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Last Bodies Found, School Rebuilding Begins

With the recovery of the last three children's bodies yesterday, Shalan Town in Ning'an, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, began rebuilding the school ravaged June 10 by a flood that killed 109 people.

The final death toll included 105 local primary school children and four villagers, according to the local rescue headquarters.

The school was devastated by a flash flood, the result of torrential rain, and officials have blamed the school's location -- it is on much lower ground than surrounding buildings -- for the high death toll.

"If only the school had been one meter higher, my daughter would not have died," cried Xue Lingguo, a Shalan resident who lost Ying Ying, 8, in the tragedy.

Rescue teams found the bodies of the last three missing children yesterday afternoon, ending the 10-day search.

Children who survived the flooding have been attending classes at Shalan Middle School in the northern part of the town.

The middle school was not affected in the flood because it is on higher ground.

By yesterday the bodies of most victims had been cremated, and almost all the bereaved villagers have received 150,000 yuan (US$18,200) compensation for each victim.

Resident Wang Deli said farmers had begun replanting in fields inundated by the flood.

"We have now turned our focus to the rebuilding work," said Xu Zhicheng, who coordinated rescue work.

Construction of a new primary school began yesterday at a site north of the middle school at the highest point in the town. The new school will include boarding facilities to help students whose homes are far away. The Xinhua News Agency quoted Ma Li, deputy secretary-general of Mudanjiang government, as saying: "We hope to finish the construction before the new semester begins in September."

(China Daily June 21, 2005)

New Residential Area to Be Built for Relocating Flood Victims
Death Toll of Heilongjiang Floods Rises to 106
Ministry Urges School Safety After Killer Flash Flood
Heroism Sparkles in Heilongjiang Inundation
Clean Up Continues in Flood-hit Village
Flood Victims' Families to Get US$18,200 Each
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