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Disaster Prevention Network to Be Developed

The government vowed yesterday that by 2020, it will have developed and introduced a nationwide system of measures to deal with earthquakes measuring up to six on the Richter scale.

A document released by the State Council said that on completion of the network, medium and large cites and economically prosperous areas will be as well equipped to prevent and deal with major quakes as those in most moderately developed countries.

The government is keen to ensure that the country's ability to handle frequently occurring natural disasters keeps pace with its booming economic and social development.

Located within the Eurasian seismic zone, one of the world's most active, China is at constant risk from powerful and destructive quakes.

Since 1900, 1.2 million people around the world have lost their lives to earthquakes; 590,000 of them were Chinese.

With most of the Chinese casualties being victims of poor construction -- crushed by falling timber and masonry -- the document stressed the need for more "quakeproof" buildings in areas prone to deadly tremors.

Early-warning and rapid-response systems will also be put in place, the document said.

In addition, provincial capitals and other cities with a population of more than one million will be required to construct emergency shelters to accommodate and protect residents in the event of a natural disaster.

Furthermore, city authorities should build reserves of essential supplies for use in such circumstances, so life can return to normal as soon as possible, the report said.

Also, anyone injured during a natural disaster should receive medical assistance within a maximum of 24 hours, it said.

The report said that as well as developing the prevention and handling network, the government is committed to raising public awareness of earthquakes and equipping them with potentially life-saving knowledge.

(China Daily November 1, 2007)

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