Con­struc­tion teams rush to fin­ish new, safer dwellings for dis­placed res­i­dents be­fore tem­per­a­tures plunge

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CUI JIA and MAO WEI­HUA in Tashkur­gan, Kashar pre­fec­ture, Xin­jiang See Homes, page 6

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.

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