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More Students Move into Regular School Buildings in Quake-hit Province

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Some 4.1 million students in quake-hit southwest China's Sichuan Province have moved from temporary, prefabricated school facilities into regular school buildings for the start of the spring semester, an official said Friday.

Ninety-five percent of the disaster-affected students can now study in regular schools, said He Shaoyong, deputy director of Sichuan Provincial Education Department.

The province will have rebuilt more than 85 percent of the 3,000 destroyed or seriously damaged schools by the end of February. The remaining will be rebuilt by the end of 2010, He said.

"The rebuilt schools can at least resist up to an 8.0-magnitude earthquake," He said.

China has pledged to make the rebuilt schools the safest places in Sichuan, requiring their earthquake resistance to be one magnitude higher than other new buildings.

"These schools will become emergency shelters if another earthquake strikes," said He.

Sichuan employs one psychological counselor for every 1,500 students in the disaster-stricken areas, said He.

More than 5,000 school students were killed, or are still listed as missing, in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Sichuan May 12, 2008.

In total, more than 86,000 people were killed or are still listed as missing.

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2010)