China to rebuild quake-hit Sichuan
Survivors try to return to normality as more than 55,000 confirmed dead.
Last Modified: 24 May 2008 07:18 GMT

Temporary housing is springing up across Sichuan [Reuters]

China has announced a three-year plan to rebuild Sichuan province as the death toll passed the 55,000 mark 11 days after the massive earthquake.


Another 25,000 people are still missing.


On Friday, Li Chengyun, Sichuan's vice-governor, said the priorities were to find survivors and to work on disease prevention in the disaster zone.


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No one has been found alive since Wednesday.


"We will not give up trying to save people," Li said in Beijing, repeating government requests for tents following China's worst quake in 30 years.


"We still need them for the five million people who need to be housed."


Li said the three-year goal was to rebuild towns and infrastructure across Sichuan after the May 12 quake.


Wrecking machines have started to demolish the few buildings left standing in Beichuan in northern Sichuan.


Officials say they plan to rebuild Beichuan's county seat in a new area, but no decision has been made on the location, Hou Xiongfei, a provincial official, said on Thursday.


Al Jazeera's Melissa Chen, reporting from Mianyang, says the authorities are moving to return some normality to the lives of survivors, with schools in makeshift tents already in session.


Ghost towns 

The streets of Beichuan, one of the hardest-hit towns in the province, were nearly deserted after military convoys, emergency workers, residents and volunteers finally left the town.


The government has appealed for more tents
to house millions of survivors [EPA]
Health experts say corpses pose little direct threat of communicable diseases or contamination.


"There are no more signs of life," Li Zichuan, a soldier, said as he watched excavators demolishing what was left of the Beichuan Middle School.


"During the recovery operation we dug many bodies up here, so now all that is left is to disinfect the place and then demolish it."


Housing an estimated five million displaced persons has also been extremely difficult with the government making repeated international appeals for tents.


Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, was shown on state television urging workers in two tent-manufacturing companies to boost production.


He has also vowed to continue the rescue effort "to the last village".

Al Jazeera and agencies
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