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Disaster Relief Work Achieving Results

Relief work in the snowstorm-hit areas is progressing well, officials said on Friday.

In some areas, transport is back to normal and electricity supply has almost been fully restored, they said.

Li Pumin, a spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference in Beijing on Friday: "By the end of next month we expect to complete repairs to damaged power grids, fully restoring electricity supply to all areas."

Li was also speaking on behalf of the disaster relief and emergency command center, which was set up at the end of last month to coordinate the fallout from the country's worst snowstorms in five decades. So far, a total of 107 people have died and direct economic loss has been put at 111 billion yuan (US$15.5 billion).

"Most national, provincial and trunk roads were open as of 5:00 PM Thursday. However, in the provinces of Guangxi and Yunnan some are still closed due to severe ice," Li said.

On Wednesday, railway stations dealt with more than 5 million passengers, an increase of 82,000 on the same day last year.

More than 70 percent of damaged power grids and transformer substations have resumed operations, Li said, after the State Grid and China Southern Power Grid sent 210,000 workers to carry out repairs.

As of Thursday, there were almost 36,000 power lines and more than 1,700 transformer substations still in need of repair or rebuilding -- a great loss to the State Grid, China Southern Power Grid and many other local power companies.

"Dealing with transport, power and people's livelihoods is at the top of our relief work agenda," Li said.

The rebuilding of wrecked houses is expected to be completed by the end of June, he said.

"By scientifically allocating manpower, materials and financial resources, we will try to reduce the losses caused by the snowstorms," Li said.

As the central government shifts its efforts to help people rebuild their homes, emphasis is also being placed on the restoration of farms to ensure an adequate supply of fruit and vegetables.

New seedlings are being planted and damage to the agricultural infrastructure is being assessed.

To date, the central government has allocated 5.48 billion yuan to the disaster relief fund and has received donations in cash and kind totaling 1.19 billion yuan.

More than 180,000 medical workers have so far treated 385,000 disaster victims.

Coal production continues to increase, and there is enough in reserve to ensure adequate power supply, Zhu Hongren, deputy department director in charge of the NDRC's economic operations, said.

Grain and oil prices continue to be stable in the disaster areas, while vegetable prices continue to fall, Zhu said.

(China Daily February 16, 2008)

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