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Rehousing of northwest China's quake homeless to take three years

05-03-2010 09:20 BJT Special Report: 7.1-magnitude Quake Hit Qinghai, China |

YUSHU, Qinghai, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The construction of new houses for 120,000 homeless survivors of the earthquake that flattened the remote town of Gyegu in northwest China last month will take up to three years, said a government advisor.

Gyegu, the mountainous town with 100,000 residents and 20,000 migrants, mostly herdsmen and farmers, was hit hardest when the 7.1-magnitude struck the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai Province, on April 14.

Almost all houses in the town collapsed or were rendered dangerous to live in and most of the residents are sheltering in tents.

Yang Baojun, vice dean of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, told Xinhua Gyegu was 800 km from the nearest city with construction resources and the long winter -- about eight months -- was too cold and windy for major building projects.

"We plan to build Gyegu into an eco-friendly tourist city, but it will take three years," said Yang, who is included in an expert group to rebuild Gyegu, the seat of the Yushu prefecture government.

But Yang would not reveal whether the new town would be restored on the ruins or be built somewhere else.

Gyegu covers 808 square km and sits on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average elevation of 4,000 meters. Temperatures easily drop to freezing at night during the winter.

"We have to make transitional housing comfortable for the homeless, because they won't just stay there for a few months," Yang said.

Yang said the expert group suggested most of the homeless in Gyegu be temporarily sheltered in cotton tents.

Pre-fab homes, which were widely used for the survivors in 2008 Sichuan earthquake, had been mostly ruled out as an option for Yushu because they were too expensive and would seriously damage the grassland environment.

According to latest official figures, about 68,200 tents and 287 pre-fab homes had been sent to the quake zone.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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