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36 Quake Looters Arrested in SW China

Police in southwest China's quake-hit Sichuan Province have arrested 36 people who looted in a sealed-and-reopened county, local authorities said on Saturday.

The looters stole electronic appliances and furniture from the shops and houses destroyed by the May 12 earthquake in Beichuan County, one of the worst-hit, as residents swarmed back to save their possessions under the debris.

Most of the looters were residents in neighboring townships, where policemen traced the looted properties, Beijing News reported on Saturday.

Local policemen found three computers, five television sets, three fridges and a large amount of furniture in the house of a resident surnamed Xu in Qushan Town, according to the report.

More than 1,000 netizens voiced their indignation at the Tencent Forum, one of the country's most popular website, hours after the news was released.

"It is immoral and illegal to loot after the earthquake," said a netizen named "Class One".

"Definitely they should be arrested and severely punished," he added.

Beichuan used to be home to more than 12,000 people, but only half of them survived the quake. All survivors have been relocated.

The county was sealed off on May 20 for disease control and reopened one month later. It was closed again early on Thursday out of epidemic concerns.

(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2008)

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