POST-QUAKE RECONSTRUCTION EFFORTS AIM TO BEAT WINTER DEADLINE
Construction teams rush to finish new, safer dwellings for displaced residents before temperatures plunge
Although it is the middle of summer, Baygenmu Hanjar is already being awakened by the cold at least once a night as the temperature begins to fall on the Pamir Plateau in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Baygenmu, 68, has been living in a disaster relief tent since her house in the village of Waerxidie collapsed on May 11 during a magnitude-5.5 earthquake that rocked Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county in Kashar prefecture, the home of people from the Tajik ethnic group.
The temblor struck at 5:58 am, when most people were asleep. Eight people died and 31 were injured, according to the local government. More than 4,750 houses were destroyed, and about 80 percent of the county’s population of more than 33,000 has been affected.
About 800 livestock perished, and the county government estimates that the direct economic loss amounts to 800 million yuan ($118 million). Last year, the county, officially designated as poverty-stricken, generated GDP of just 670 million yuan.
“Winter will come soon on the Pamir Plateau. It has already started snowing in the mountainous areas,” Baygenmu said as she leaned on the wooden door frame of her old house in Waerxidie, near Tashkurgan, the county seat. The door frame is the only visible sign of the stone-and-mud house that took the family years to build. Even the low stone wall that is traditional around Tajik dwellings has disappeared.
At a June 6 meeting to dis- cuss reconstruction projects for Tashkurgan, the Xinjiang government pledged to build new, earthquake-resistant houses for all the families that lost their homes, and to ensure that they can move in by the end of August, before the harshest cold starts to arrive.
Primary school students take a Chinese class in a tent in Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last month.
Children play outside tents which serve as classrooms in a temporary settlement in Quzgun village, Tashkurgan Tajik autonomous county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.