Xi: Dis­as­ter re­lief must be im­proved

Pres­i­dent pays trib­ute to the thou­sands who died when dis­as­ter struck 40 years ago

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By CUI JIA and LUO WANGSHU Con­tact the writ­ers at cui­jia@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China must fur­ther im­prove its over­all dis­as­ter re­lief abil­ity in view of the fre­quent nat­u­ral dis­as­ters it ex­pe­ri­ences, which of­ten cause great dam­age, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said on Thurs­day.

Af­ter mourn­ing vic­tims of the earth­quake in Tang­shan, He­bei prov­ince, that claimed more than 240,000 lives 40 years ago, Xi said dis­as­ter re­lief is a mat­ter of life and death as well as so­cial sta­bil­ity.

It can also de­ter­mine if gov­ern­ments are suf­fi­ciently com­pe­tent, he said.

Au­thor­i­ties need to know how to han­dle mul­ti­ple nat­u­ral dis­as­ter re­lief work, rather than just one in­ci­dent, and grad­u­ally shift their fo­cus from dis­as­ter re­lief to pre­ven­tion, he said.

Xi also called for the en­force­ment of an early warn­ing sys­tem for nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and for ef­forts to en­sure that build­ings in ur­ban ar­eas, houses in ru­ral ar­eas and in­fra­struc­ture can re­sist dif­fer­ent kinds of dis­as­ters.

He placed flower bas­kets in front of walls bear­ing vic­tims’ names at Tang­shan Earth­quake Memo­rial Park to honor them and res­cuers who lost their lives in one of the most de­struc­tive earth­quakes in his­tory on July 28, 1976.

Xi bowed three times to pay his re­spects while peo­ple gath­ered at the park, which opened to the public in 2008, to mourn loved ones.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures put the death toll at 242,769 with 164,000 in­jured af­ter a mag­ni­tude-7.8 earth­quake hit the city at about 4 am when most peo­ple were asleep. Tang­shan had an ur­ban pop­u­la­tion of about 1 mil­lion be­fore the quake, which left 3,817 peo­ple par­a­lyzed.

Xi vis­ited a clinic for par­a­lyzed pa­tients in Tang­shan in the af­ter­noon and met Gao Zhi­hong, who­has been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment there.

“I was de­lighted and ex­tremely ex­cited to meet Pres­i­dent Xi, but strangely I was not ner­vous. It was like see­ing a fam­ily friend — he is such a kind and gen­tle man. He asked us many ques­tions, like what we were do­ing for a liv­ing be­fore the quake and how our lives were now,” said Gao, 65.

Gao’s hus­band, Yang Yu­fang, wrote a novel and po­ems to share his ex­pe­ri­ence of sur­viv­ing the quake. Yang pre­sented Xi with two newly pub­lished books as gifts.

Gao added, “If the govern­ment had de­serted us, I would have been dead long ago.”

If the govern­ment had de­serted us, I would have been dead long ago.” Gao Zhi­hong, a Tang­shan res­i­dent who was par­a­lyzed in the 1976 earth­quake

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