China Is Hit by Strongest Aftershock Since Deadly Earthquake

China Is Hit by Strongest Aftershock Since Deadly Earthquake

China was hit by the strongest aftershock since the May 12 earthquake that killed more than 62,600 people and left 69 dams in danger of collapse, Bloomberg reported.

The temblor of 6.4 magnitude jolted Qingchuan county of Sichuan at 4:21 p.m. today, according to the China National Seismic Network. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the strength at 5.8. It was felt 800 miles away in Beijing, the Associated Press reported.

Sixty-nine reservoirs are in ``immediate'' danger of bursting, E. Jingping, deputy minister of the Ministry of Water Resources, said at a press conference today. The military is trying to prevent an artificial lake in Tangjiashan from flooding its banks after accumulating 100 million cubic meters of water.

As much as 100 millimeters (4 inches) of rain may fall in the quake-stricken region during the next two days, Xinhua reported late yesterday, citing the local government. China aims to complete reconstruction in the disaster area within three months, according to the report.

The May 12 quake had claimed 62,664 lives and injured 358,816 as of noon today in Beijing, according to the State Council, or Cabinet. The death toll may rise to ``a level of 70,000, 80,000 or more,'' Premier Wen Jiabao said as he toured the area with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The Chinese government will build 1.5 million temporary houses for survivors of the earthquake in the Sichuan province.

Quake Resistant

The houses, designed to last for three years, will be made of quake-resistant materials and offer 20 square meters (215 square feet) of floor space each, Minister of Housing and Urban- Rural Development Jiang Weixin said yesterday in the provincial capital, Chengdu, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

An 80-year-old disabled man was rescued alive in Mianzhu city of Sichuan, 266 hours after the earthquake, the China News Agency reported. There are 23,775 people still missing, according to the government.

The 7.9-magnitude temblor left more than 5 million homeless. President Hu Jintao has ordered domestic manufacturers to make more tents as the relief effort, which rescued almost 84,000 people from the rubble of collapsed buildings, now focuses on housing, feeding survivors and preventing the spread of disease.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang yesterday called for stepped-up efforts to fully restore electricity supply. Power has been partially restored in 16 counties in Sichuan, although the two hardest-hit counties, Beichuan and Lixian, are still blacked out, Xinhua said.

`Stands Behind You'

China's government ``demonstrated extraordinary leadership to overcome this natural disaster,'' Ban said yesterday. ``If we work hard, we can overcome this. The whole world stands behind you and supports you.''

The earthquake damaged highways and local roads throughout Sichuan, causing 47.8 billion yuan ($6.9 billion) in wreckage to transportation infrastructure and slowing the relief effort, Xinhua reported, citing the province's transportation department.

Some sections of seven expressways were severely ruined and tunnels and bridges on five national highways were destroyed, according to the report. In rural areas, more than 17,000 kilometers (10,566 miles) of roads were demolished.

The government is setting up a 70 billion yuan fund to pay for reconstruction, and government departments have been told to cut spending by 5 percent to divert funds for rebuilding. Disaster-relief allocations reached 15 billion yuan yesterday.

The May 12 earthquake was the most powerful to hit China, the world's most populous country, since a magnitude 8.6 quake struck Tibet in 1950, killing 1,526 people. A 7.5 magnitude temblor in Tangshan in the northeast killed 250,000 in 1976, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. China's seismology department said the Sichuan quake had a magnitude of 8.

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