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Most gas blowout evacuees return home
( 2003-12-31 09:22) (Xinhua)

Most evacuated villagers from the area most severely affected by last week's toxic gas blowout in southwest China's Chongqing municipality will return home on Tuesday, rescue officials say.

The rescue operation headquarters announced that all evacuees from the poison gas accident would return, except those who were hospitalized, and the elderly and children related to the 233 who died in the blowout, and those who needed to identify bodies.

Local police sent 319 officers to help ensure a safe and orderly return.

Rescue officials said a total of 58,683 people had so far returned, with 6,949 still on the way.

The work of sending villagers back home began on Sunday after the situation at the accident site was confirmed stable and safe.

The blowout took place at 10 p.m. on Dec. 23 at a natural gas field operated by the China National Petroleum Corporation, in Kaixian county, when a well burst and released a high concentration of natural gas and sulfurated hydrogen.

The well was sealed at 11 a.m. Saturday.

At least approximately 9,000 people were injured in the accident.

Six million yuan in donations arrives

Donations totaling 6.27 million yuan (US$755,421) have reached Kaixian county, Chongqing Municipality, where a gas blowout on Dec. 23 killed 233 people.

The county has also received 93,800 items of clothing, 30,500 quilts and 35,400 food packages, a county spokesman said.

Most evacuees have returned home and the county will help them resume normal lives.

In one town near the blowout center, Gaoqiao Township, shops have re-opened, people could be seen walking and children playing in the streets.

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