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Families in Quake-leveled Beichuan Get New Apartments

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More than 3,500 families whose homes were destroyed in the devastating 2008 Sichuan quake received new apartments Thursday through a computer drawing, local authorities said.

The first group of 8,504 people from 3,534 families who had lived in the old county seat of Beichuan before it was leveled in the massive quake could move into their new apartments in the new county seat after seven days of public notification of the drawing results, said a spokesman with the county's government information office.

The families had earlier submitted to the government the hoped-for size of their apartment and Thursday's computer drawing would tell them which apartment they would receive, said the spokesman.

They have to pay less than 40 percent of the apartment's construction cost.

Most of the families have been living in pre-fabs since the quake.

Construction of the new county seat of Beichuan, which is located about 23 km south of the old one, was finished in late September.

Nearly 40,000 residents are expected to move into the 4-square-kilometer county seat by the end of the year.

Also, the county government estimated the new county seat would expand to 7 square kilometers and a population of 70,000 by 2020.

An 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan Province and neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in May 2008, leaving 87,000 people dead or missing.

In hardest-hit Beichuan, nearly 20,000 people, including 16,000 in the county seat, were killed or are still listed as missing.

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2010)

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