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Sichuan quake fund still US$180b short
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Sichuan has only a fraction of the money it needs to pay for its massive reconstruction program, Vice-Governor Huang Xiaoxiang said Monday.

While the total amount needed for the project has been estimated at 1.67 trillion yuan (US$244 billion), the province has only about a quarter of that, he said at a promotional fair in Xiamen.

The relief fund includes contributions from the central and provincial governments, and various donations from home and abroad, he said.

Rebuilding Sichuan will include the construction of some 4.5 million homes, 51,000 km of highways, 5,500 km of railways, 11,700 schools, 9,700 hospitals and clinics, 2,000 reservoirs, 810 power stations, 4,000 office buildings, 100,000 hectares of farmland and 300,000 hectares of forest, Huang said.

The massive project will require 37 million tons of steel, 370 million tons of cement, 20 million cu m of timber, 210 billion bricks and nearly 1.1 billion cu m of sand and rocks, he said.

Despite the huge amount of work still to be done, more than 93 percent of the province's major businesses have now resumed production and the tourism markets in 13 cities and autonomous prefectures have reopened, he said.

Meanwhile, 35,683 students who were affected by the recent earthquake in Panzhihua, Sichuan, started the new school semester Monday, Kong Wei, head of the city's education bureau, said.

The students, who account for almost 22 percent of the city's total, returned to a variety of "classrooms", he said.

"More than 12,000 students ushered in the new semester in tents," Kong said.

Of the city's 598 primary and high schools, 183 were damaged to some degree or other, he said.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake, which hit the juncture of Panzhihua and Huili county in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture on Aug 30, killed 38 people and injured 589 others.

Li Xi, an official with the Huili education bureau, said that 58 primary and high schools in the county were so badly damaged they will have to be demolished or reinforced.

"All the schools in the county had planned to start the new semester Monday. But the deadline has been postponed for most of them until Sept 16," he said.

(China Daily September 9, 2008)

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