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School tragedy town given more aid
By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-09 05:52

Shalan Town, where 117 people, 105 of them school children, were killed in floods two months ago, is to receive more government money for reconstruction.

The town in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province will receive a further 12 million yuan (US$1.48 million) from the central government.

According to the local development and reform commission, the money, to be allocated by the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission, will be used to rebuild houses and improve water control measures around the town.

A flood on June 10 inundated a low-lying primary school where 352 pupils and 31 teaching staff were in class. It also caused 120 million yuan (US$14.6 million) worth of damage in the township. More than 200 houses were affected by the flood, of which 55 collapsed.

"We'll use half of the money, 6 million yuan (US$740,000), for the rebuilding work, and leave the other half for construction of infrastructure ," said Liu Junfeng, an official with the local development and reform commission in a telephone interview yesterday.

According to Liu, as well as repairing houses, the first project, which began on June 15, also includes the building of a reservoir, an embankment along the Shalan River, and dykes to hold back floodwaters.

In total, the first project will cost 15.14 million yuan (US$ 1.87 million) and is expected to end in late October, Liu said.

"It will not only help resist floods, but also prevent soil erosion," he said.

The repair and construction of roads and drainage systems in the town will cost about 20.03 million yuan (US$ 2.47 million), and is set to start today.

"Work will probably last six months," Liu said. "Once finished, villagers in Shalan will enjoy better living conditions."

Liu said money from the central government would account for about one third of total expenditure, with the rest being raised by the local government.

According to the local commission, the central government has earmarked 8.9 million yuan (US$ 1.1 million) for the rebuilding of the Shalan Central Primary School.

The town has decided to build the new school at the highest point in Shalan, to protect it from flooding, and to make it a boarding school for students whose homes are far away.

The central committee and the central government are highly concerned about the families of the victims and the people in Shalan.

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