CHENGDU -- A special working team has been formed to help parents of students killed in the May 12 earthquake, the Sichuan provincial government said Wednesday.
The team members, chosen from units directly under the provincial government, have already left for Chengdu, Deyang, Mianyang and Guangyuan to work with the parents.
A mother (R) holding a portrait of her 12-year-old son Feng Junwei cries next to the ruins of destroyed Fuxing primary school in the earthquake-hit Wufu town of Mianzhu county, Sichuan province May 21, 2008. [Agencies]
At least 6,000 students were killed when their school buildings collapsed in the quake. Some bereaved parents have questioned the quality of the materials used to build the schools and asked the authorities to investigate.
"All school buildings" in the quake-hit areas would be checked, said the earthquake relief headquarters of the State Council, the country's cabinet, last week.
It asked the authorities to conduct investigations and collect the necessary documents and samples so they can be used as references while planning for reconstruction.
The State Council passed a draft regulation on Wednesday on post-quake restoration and reconstruction, calling for special requirements to lift the quake-resistance levels of infrastructure, especially school and hospital buildings.
Premier Wen Jiabao, who chaired the meeting, said it is necessary to guide restoration and reconstruction work into the legal orbit.
Rescue workers could start draining out the Tangjiashan quake lake near Beichuan county as early as today, Xinhua said.
The lake now holds 211.6 million cu m of water, according to the relief headquarters of the Ministry of Water Resources.
The water level had reached 737.78 m by 2 pm on Wednesday, just 1.37 m from the overflowing point in the blockage formed by landslides.
"We must prepare to deal with the worst eventuality," said Chen Lei, minister of water resources, at a meeting in Sichuan.
The exact time when draining will start will depend on the flow of water into the lake from the upper reaches of the blocked river, Liu Ning, ministry chief engineer, said.
The upper reaches of the river add up to 3,350 sq km, and a 2-mm rainfall there would mean a rise of 1 m in the lake's water level.
The meteorological office has forecast rain in and around the quake lake area for today and tomorrow, with 20 mm of rain expected tonight alone.
The death toll in the quake rose by 15 to 69,122 by noon on Wednesday, the State Council's Information Office said. A total of 373,606 people have been injured and 17,991 are missing.
Hospitals have treated 96,020 injured people, 72,353 of who have been discharged, and 21,097 are still in hospital.
By noon on Wednesday, 794,200 tents, 4.56 million quilts, 11.81 million garments, 699,100 tons of fuel oil and 1.48 million tons of coal had been delivered.