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Quake rebuilding to cost US$147 billion

CHINA: The repair bill from the massive earthquake that struck central China this year will be almost US$150 billion, including the cost of rebuilding thousands of wrecked schools, the government said according to state media.

Nearly 70,000 people died in the May 12 quake and 5 million were left homeless in three hard-hit provinces - China’s worst natural disaster in a generation.

The National Development and Reform Commission’s draft rebuilding plan published this week says 3,400 primary schools need to be rebuilt in Sichuan and neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, the China Daily newspaper reported Wednesday. Another 2,600 schools needed to be strengthened, the state-run newspaper reported.

Dozens of schools collapsed and official repression of grieving parents’ questions about unsafe school buildings and accusations of corruption has perhaps become the disaster’s most emotional issue.

The total cost of rebuilding would be about 1 trillion yuan, or US$147 billion, the paper said.

The rebuilding plan includes new homes for more than 3 million rural households, as well as the creation of jobs for about 1 million people, it said.

The quake also caused more than 843 billion yuan (US$122 billion) in direct economic losses, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Sichuan officials have said they want to rebuild communities within three years, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has said rebuilding in the other two provinces should be complete by 2010.

Soon after the quake, China set up a US$10 billion reconstruction fund - compared with the US$40 billion spent on the Olympic Games that are under way in the capital, Beijing.

The quake threw about 1.4 million farmers into absolute poverty, China Daily reported. The Chinese government has said it plans no large-scale relocation of people from the quake zone.

 

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