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Some quake funds, supplies misused
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Relief funds for the survivors of the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province were embezzled, drugs misappropriated, and relief supplies unusable - but not seriously, the National Audit Office has found in a nationwide investigation.

The death toll from the quake in southwestern China stood at 69,207 people as of yesterday.

Twenty-one officials have been disciplined over misuse of relief money and goods.

The Audit Office discovered 36 abuses related to relief money and goods in its investigation and referred them to relevant departments. All the money and goods misappropriated have been recovered, according to a report yesterday on the office's Website.

The offenders have been punished by the Communist Party of China or local governments, according to the report, which also disclosed some details of the abuses.

An accountant working at a town civil affairs office in eastern China's Shandong Province embezzled about 13,300 yuan (US$1,941) in donations. The accountant, identified as Xu, confessed and returned the money after the deficit was discovered.

A town medical clinic in Sichuan's Dujiangyan City was found to have misappropriated 226,800 yuan worth of drugs. The head of the clinic, identified as Zhong, has been suspended.

A village Party secretary in northern China's Shaanxi Province listed himself and a dozen other relatives as earthquake victims together with a village clerk to swindle 3,900 yuan from the government. The Party secretary, identified as Chen, was warned by the Party and has returned all the money.

Auditing authorities nationwide traced all relief money and goods and have audited 18 central government departments and most of the country's local departments as well as more than 5,763 villages in Sichuan, Gansu, Shaanxi, Yunnan provinces and Chongqing Municipality. No major issues had been found by July 18, according to the report.

The country's central and local financial departments allocated more than 63.7 billion yuan for relief work after the earthquake. Donations from the public reached 58.63 billion yuan, while members of Communist Party of China gave 8.2 billion yuan.

However, donations still with central or local governments now total 4.63 billion yuan, and some relief items and goods are lying unused in warehouses or have been found to be useless in quake-hit areas.

In some areas there were more food and tents supplied than needed. An oversupply of 7,000 tons of pesticides and sanitation fluids had caused outbreaks of fire or had leaked.

The report said that nine loads of goods in Haining City, Zhejiang Province, were unusable because of mould, stains, bad smells or expired use-by dates.

In some disaster zones, officials collected money from victims or deducted money from victims' allowances or subsidies, the report said.

(Shanghai Daily August 5, 2008)

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