Gansu mourns quake victims

Updated: 2013-07-29 07:08

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

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A memorial ceremony on Sunday honored the victims of the magnitude-6.6 earthquake in Gansu province on July 22, as rescuers worked to prevent secondary disasters amid rainy weather.

More than 500 officials, rescuers, residents and volunteers attended the ceremony, mourning and remembering the victims of the quake that jolted the border of Minxian and Zhangxian counties in Dingxi.

According to Chinese tradition, the seventh day after the death of a person is an important memorial occasion for relatives.

As of Sunday, 95 people had been confirmed dead in the disaster. More than 2,100 were injured, and nearly 300,000 lost their homes. A total of 123,000 people from six regions in Gansu were affected by the quake, with a direct loss of more than 20 billion yuan ($3.26 billion).

The ceremony was originally planned for Majiagou, a village in Meichuan township, one of the worst-hit areas, but the event was moved to the government hall in Minxian county because roads to Majiagou have been blocked by heavy rain since Saturday evening.

"The deceased have left us, and we must carry on with our lives," said a tearful Bao Wenxing, a resident who lost one of his family members and whose house collapsed in the quake.

Soldiers from the People's Liberation Army assisting in the rescue and relief work, plus volunteers and survivors in Minxian's Puma township stopped working at 10 am when the ceremony started and observed three minutes of silence to mourn the victims.

"The rescue is still under way, and we can't afford even one minute of rest," soldier Shen Yanshuai told China News Agency, adding they battled pouring rain on Saturday night to fortify residents' tents.

Heavy rain has been falling in Minxian over the past several days, hampering the delivery of relief materials, local authorities said.

In addition, secondary disasters are still frequent in quake-struck areas, and authorities should pay close attention to prevent further damage, said Li Zhiheng, head of the Gansu Institute of Geo-Environment Monitoring.

More than 470 places in the quake zone and its neighboring regions have been identified as having geological hazards, the Dingxi government said in a statement on its website on Sunday.

It has urged local governments to take necessary measures to handle the problem.

Meanwhile, the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, has allocated 100 million yuan for infrastructure reconstruction in Gansu's quake-hit areas.

The fund will be used for rebuilding transportation, water conservancy and other public service facilities in Minxian and Zhangxian counties, the Gansu provincial development and reform commission said.

(China Daily USA 07/29/2013 page6)