China’s quake-hit county may move to new site

May 21st, 2008 - 8:18 pm ICT by admin  

Mianyang (China), May 21 (Xinhua) Beichuan, the worst-hit county in the May 12 earthquake in southwestern China, will be rebuilt on a new site in neighbouring Anxian county, according to a preliminary plan. The exact location is yet to be decided, but it is likely to be on the flat land of Anxian county, some 20 km from the devastated area, said an official of the Sichuan provincial government who added that the plan was awaiting official approval.

The low-lying original county lay directly over a geological fracture zone, where quakes have frequently taken place in previous centuries, and it was encircled by mountains, leaving the buildings at a high risk of landslides.

“Safety is the top priority in selecting a new location and reconstruction,” said Beichuan’s Communist Party chief Song Ming.

“We plan to build a monument and a memorial to the quake victims on the previous location.”

The administration of the levelled Beichuan country now functions from a floor of the five-storey Tianlong Hotel in Anchang township.

About 70 percent of the buildings in the county seat, some 90 km from the quake epicentre Wenchuan, was destroyed and “not a single building in the once-prosperous township is safe”, said Song.

“It is impossible to rebuild the county seat at the original location or nearby,” he said.

Wu Zhenhan, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences who is investigating the damage at Beichuan, called for caution in the selection of the new location.

“We should draw lessons from the tragedy this time, which reminds us of the importance of a full evaluation of disaster risks before the massive reconstruction project,” said Wu.

The provincial government had finished a draft plan of Beichuan county’s reconstruction, including site selection of the new county seat, the reconstruction of the other townships and survivor resettlement, said a provincial government official, who declined to give his name.

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