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Wen: Quake Relief Shifting to Resettlement, Reconstruction

Premier Wen Jiabao said on Saturday the efforts to search survivors were continuing in the quake-hit areas, but the focus of work would be gradually shifted to the resettlement of residents and post-quake reconstruction.

Wen told Chinese and foreign reporters at a resettlement site in Yingxiu town, a worst-hit area in the May 12 quake, that the biggest difficulty in resettling the quake-affected residents was the lack of tents.

A total of 15 million rooms were damaged or destroyed in the quake and a large number of people are in need of shelter, said the premier, who is paying a second visit to the quake-hit Sichuan Province.

"We have collected the tents nationwide and got aid from international community, but tents are still lacking," Wen said.

The Chinese government has ordered domestic tent manufacturers to produce and transport 30,000 tents to the quake zone each day and 900,000 within a month, Wen said.

The production of movable plank houses should also be accelerated to ensure the quake-affected people resume a normal life within three months, Wen added.

Efforts should also be made to ensure no big epidemic after the disaster, the premier said

Enough epidemic prevention staff and medicine supply should be ensured, he said.

Wen said another problem confronting quake-relief workers is that the chances of secondary disasters still exist. Quake-formed lakes are the most serious among them.

"We will take effective measures to eradicate safety hazards to ensure no casualties in secondary disasters," Wen said.

The premier stressed that the construction materials of collapsed public buildings, including schools and hospitals, should be collected for reference in future reconstruction.

"Some 110,000 People's Liberation Army troops and armed police have been mobilized," the premier said. "The search and rescue operation has been conducted in every village."

The central finance had earmarked tens of billions of yuan for the relief work, Wen said. A 75-billion-yuan (about US$10.7 billion) post-quake reconstruction fund had been set up and more money would be added to it in the next two years, he added.

Before the reporters, Wen expressed sincere thanks to the Chinese worldwide, including compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as the leaders, governments and people of other countries for their concern, sympathy, aid and help.

"Facing such a powerful quake, we welcome international reporters to the quake zone," Wen said. "And we believe you can report the quake, its damage and the work we have done in a fair, objective and truthful way with your conscience and humanitarian spirit."

"In handling emergency incidents and other issues, we will unswervingly stick to the principles of putting people first and opening up to the outside," he said.

The 8.0-magnitude quake, which was centered in Wenchuan County, had left 60,560 dead nationwide as of Saturday noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council.

(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2008)

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