Villagers lay the foundation for the reconstruction of the quake-hit Trangu village in Yushu, Qinghai province May 4, 2010. [Xinhua]
YUSHU, Qinghai - Reconstruction work began Tuesday in quake-devastated Yushu County in northwest China's Qinghai Province, bringing many homeless residents a hope to move into better, safer houses.
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake on April 14 destroyed most of the structures in the county's Gyegu Town, the quake's epicenter.
Governor Luo Huining declared the start of the reconstruction program Tuesday morning at a foundation-laying ceremony held for the new neighborhoods to be built in Trangu and Ganda villages of the town.
The rebuilding of the two villages will be a pilot project for the whole region's reconstruction program, according to the governor.
The two villages were almost completely razed to the ground in the quake, which killed at least 2,200 people while leaving more than 100,000 homeless.
The new rural neighborhoods will be built on the debris of the two villages with planning, first-rate infrastructure and beauty, Luo said.
Living conditions in the villages will be improved compared to before the quake, he promised.
The design of the new neighborhood will be in line with the principles of ensuring a comfortable life, conserving the ecological system and respecting religion and ethnic culture, Luo added.
Kuang Yong, head of the Provincial Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, told Xinhua Tuesday that the planning involved anti-quake design, and designs to safeguard against other natural disasters.
The planning followed the principles of being "safe, natural and comfortable" for living, Kuang said. His department is responsible for the overall planning of the two villages' reconstruction.
The design of new neighborhoods in the predominantly-Tibetan region would follow traditional Tibetan styles, with places for religious worship, Kuang noted, adding that every household will have power and running water.
Wearing a black Tibetan-style robe and twirling a string of beads, Tseji Drolma joined fellow villagers to observe the foundation-laying ceremony.
"We've been living in the village for generations. I'm looking forward to returning home and living in a new house as soon as possible," said the76-year-old lady from Trangu village.
Grasum Lhamo, a college student in south China's Shenzhen city, lost her mother in the disaster. Her three-year-old brother injured in the quake is still in hospital.
"The quake destroyed our homes. It's hard to imagine the situation if the government had not helped us," the 19-year-old student said.
Pointing to the design drawings of the planned houses, Karma Yede, 70, said he liked the design of roof-top glass greenhouses.
"It would be much better than old houses," he said.
According to Wang Yuhu, head of Yushu Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, which administers Yushu County, labor skill training courses would be provided for local farmers during the reconstruction period.
The training program is expected to help locals improve living standards and increase income, he added.