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China Turns Focus to Rebuilding Infrastructure Destroyed by Quake


More than two weeks after the earthquake in China that killed more than 68,000 people and left nearly five million others homeless, Chinese officials are working on plans for reconstruction. Jamila Trindle reports from Beijing.

In China's Sichuan Province, efforts have moved from rescue to securing infrastructure and resources for rebuilding.

Mu Hong, the head of China's Development and Reform Commission, says grain reserves have been sent to the area and that coal reserves and other energy resources are stable. He said Wednesday the government is still planning the rebuilding process.

Mu says the State Council has made clear some of the principles that will be followed in the process. He says they are putting people first, coming up with comprehensive overall plans, basing the work on scientific research and debate and doing it step by step.

The work ahead is vast. In some communities, nearly every building was destroyed or badly damaged. Roads leading to many smaller towns are blocked or bridges are unsafe.

While officials are working on that plan, soldiers in Sichuan trying to relieve pressure on lakes created when land slides dammed rivers. The government says it has evacuated nearly 160,000 people from around one of those lakes, which threatens to break over its banks and flood the area. The work could be hampered by aftershocks and storms that are forecast for the area.

The government plans to spend about $27 million to deal with these more than 30 lakes that formed after the earthquake. In addition, it has dozens of man-made dams in the region to inspect and repair, to prevent new disasters from floods.

Officials say that progress has been made to repair roads and other infrastructure, but much of it is only temporary and needs to be reinforced.

Mu says they are racing against time to rebuild and recover damaged infrastructure. But he says, the picture does not allow for much optimism because the restored power supply, communications or roads are temporary, and the rainy season is going to start, the earth has already been shaken loose during the earthquake, so there are high risks of landslides and mudslides.

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