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Quake-hit Sichuan to Invest 3 Tln Yuan by 2010

Authorities in quake-hit Sichuan Province in southwest China plan to invest at least 3 trillion yuan (US$441 billion) for reconstruction by 2010, executive vice provincial governor Wei Hong said on Friday.

About 1.67 trillion yuan is needed to rebuild the 139 counties hit by the 8.0-magnitude quake in May, with investment in other development projects to reach almost 700 billion yuan each year between 2008-2010, Wei told a press conference in Beijing.

Under those estimates, spending could approach 3.7 trillion yuan.

Wei said that "the central and provincial governments can only provide 800 billion yuan, or about a fifth of the total investment needed, so we will raise funds from banks, the capital market and donations" to get the rest.

He said reconstruction investment will be 790 billion yuan this year and 1.2 trillion yuan next year.

As of the end of October, the central government had allocated almost 34.5 billion yuan for post-disaster reconstruction and five major banks had agreed to lend 64.73 billion yuan, Wei told reporters.

In addition, Sichuan had reached 1,152 reconstruction agreements with other provinces as well as the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, with a planned investment totaling 27 billion yuan, he added.

The 8.0-magnitude quake centered in Sichuan's Wenchuan County left more than 69,000 people dead, 374,000 injured, 18,000 missing and millions homeless.

More than 31,000 aftershocks have been reported since, with the strongest measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.

In terms of the intensity and scope of destruction, the May 12 quake is believed to have surpassed the 7.8-magnitude quake in 1976 in Tangshan, north China's Hebei Province, which claimed more than 240,000 lives.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2008)

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