China reopens major highway destroyed by quake

Other News Materials 3 September 2008 09:37 (UTC +04:00)

Workers reopened a major highway in southwestern China that was destroyed by a massive earthquake in May, speeding up rebuilding efforts, state media said Wednesday.

The 56-mile (90-kilometer) road in Sichuan province linking Wenchuan county and Dujiangyan, near the provincial capital of Chengdu, has been repaired, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Wenchuan was the epicenter of the powerful magnitude-7.9 quake on May 12 that killed nearly 70,000 people and left 5 million homeless.

After about 80 percent of the road was destroyed, vehicles taking supplies to quake-hit areas had to detour along 500 miles (800 kilometers) of mountainous roads, Xinhua said.

More than six miles (10 kilometers) of the road was covered with debris, 50 bridges were damaged and seven were destroyed, the report cited Wang Yang, a Sichuan provincial official, as saying.

During a visit to the quake zone Tuesday to mark 110 days after the quake, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure shattered by the temblor was the country's most urgent disaster relief task, Xinhua said.

Wen also said a nationwide campaign to donate clothes and quilts to quake survivors will be launched in October to help them get through the winter "safe and sound," the report said.

Since the May quake, the region has been hit by scores of aftershocks, keeping people there on edge.

On Saturday, a 5.7-magnitude quake struck the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, killing at least 38 people. Nearly 400,000 homes were damaged, while 181,000 people were evacuated, AP reported.