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Help arrives for Gansu quake victims

By Ding Qingfen and Xu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-03 09:55

Dingxi-area residents get 10,000 shelters, 1,000 heating stoves

Thousands of shelters and heating stoves have been provided to victims of the magnitude-6.6 earthquake that jolted Gansu province in late July since Premier Li Keqiang visited the area two weeks ago and called for greater relief efforts to prepare for the upcoming winter.

About 10,000 shelters from the Ministry of Civil Affairs and more than 1,000 heating stoves from the Gansu Civil Affairs Department have been distributed to quake victims in Minxian and Zhangxian counties in the city of Dingxi, according to the department in a statement released on Sunday night.

The earthquake on July 22 killed 95 people and injured more than 4,000, according to the department. More than 380,000 people lost their homes, and the lives of at least 780,000 people were affected by the quake.

While visiting the quake-hit areas on Aug 17, the premier assured the public that the government will provide assistance, and he called for authorities to provide "people-oriented" relief.

Li requested that warm shelters be delivered to quake victims after he learned that the tents the villagers live in could not protect them from the low temperatures in the coming winter.

Minxian county, the epicenter of the earthquake, is located on a plateau whose average altitude is 2,700 meters. The county has an annual average temperature of 6 C, and winter typically comes in early October, bringing dramatic daily temperature swings.

Dingxi Daily reported that the 10,000 shelters could provide accommodation for the 380,000 who lost their homes in the earthquake.

The Gansu Civil Affairs Department allocated 9.1 million yuan ($1.49 million) to pay for heating stoves in addition to the more than 1,000 stoves already distributed to victims.

The earthquake did not delay the start of the school year last week for about 15,000 primary and middle school students in Minxian, even though 70 percent of classrooms in the county had been destroyed.

During his visit two weeks ago, the premier required that the school season start according to schedule. Many portable classrooms were built by local authorities with the help of People's Liberation Army soldiers and donations less than a month after the quake.

Zhang Jiandong, principal of Zhazha Primary School in Minxian, said counseling will be provided for the school's pupils in the hopes that the earthquake will make students mentally stronger.

Rebuilding of homes has already begun for many villagers in parts of the province more readily accessible by highways and roads.

Song Yanbin, a villager of Meichuan township, whose nine-room house was destroyed in the earthquake, said quake victims should be self-reliant in rebuilding their lives.

On Aug 25, Song began building his new home from the debris of his old one with the help of local authorities.

"The earthquake is a natural disaster and the government may offer some help. But ultimately, you need your own strength to recover from it," he said.

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Xue Chaohua in Lanzhou contributed to this story.

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