China steps up relief as quake toll crosses 68,000

May 29th, 2008 - 9:30 pm ICT by admin  

Chengdu (China), May 29 (Xinhua) The toll in China’s May 12 earthquake rose Thursday to 68,516 with 19,350 people still untraced as the government mobilised 178,000 armed forces personnel in a massive relief effort. Some 15.15 million people affected in the quake zones have been evacuated, the information office of the State Council said.

The army transported more than 506,000 tonnes of relief materials by land and airlifted 5,360 tonnes to the disaster-hit areas, and repaired some 4,000 km of damaged roads, built over 119,000 tents and cleared up more than 2 million cubic metres of ruins.

As many as 45,000 militia and reservists have been requisitioned to help with the rescue work, Chengdu Military Area Command deputy commander Lu Dengming told the media during the second press conference held by the army since the major earthquake May 12.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities published a special statute Thursday that provides for punishment for malpractice and fraud involving relief in the aftermath of the earthquake in the southwest province of Sichuan.

The new regulation was jointly issued by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the ministry of supervision (MOS).

The two departments ordered their local counterparts at various levels to ensure corruption-free relief and to investigate and punish wrongdoing.

The National Audit Office (NAO) had said immediately after the earthquake that it would audit the use of cash and goods for quake disaster regions, to ensure resources were strictly managed and used in a proper and timely manner.

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