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Safety checks in schools ordered in snow-hit areas
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China's Ministry of Education (MOE) has ordered all primary and high schools in snow-hit areas to step up safety inspections before the new semester begins.

The MOE said in a circular that local education departments and schools should carefully examine structural safety. All repaired or rebuilt school buildings and facilities must be approved for use by relevant departments.

The schools should ensure food and water supplies and safety to protect students from infectious diseases, according to the circular.

Schoolbuses should not be used if roads are still covered with ice and snow, or there were hidden dangers of landslides.

The beginning of new semester, which was set by local education departments, should be postponed until conditions return to normal, it said.

In the past month, prolonged low temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow have covered much of southern China.

Twenty-one provincial-level areas have been affected, with Hunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Zhejiang, Sichuan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region being the worst hit. The weather claimed 107 lives and caused 15.4 billion U.S. dollars in direct economic losses.

The disaster relief and emergency command center under the State Council has issued an emergency circular, calling on governments in disaster areas to beef up reconstruction to restore order in production and people's life.

The notice urged priority to be given to restoration of power grid, railways, water supply, education and health care facilities, damaged civilian houses, among other facilities. Top importance should also be attached to restoration of agricultural production, the circular said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2008)


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