Residents in quake-battered county in SW. China improvise as best they can

NING'ER, Yunnan Province, Jun 6, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Residents in quake-battered Ning'er County in southwest China's Yunnan Province are sheltering in makeshift homes and tents after being left homeless by a strong earthquake which hit the province on Sunday.

By Tuesday morning, around 5,000 tents had been allocated to residents, and officials with the Ning'er County Civil Affairs Bureau said another 15,000 tents are needed.

In outlying Huangliang village, only seven tents are available for 117 villagers, and some residents have had to build makeshift shelters with rain-proof cloth and tarpaulins. The price of tarpaulins has risen by about 30 percent.

The roads and highways leading to Ning'er today were thronged with trucks carrying disaster-relief material.

Wang Weiwei, deputy county chief, said the county has received about 8.2 million yuan (about 1.06 million U.S. dollars) of donations, and tents, quilts, food, water and bags of rice are being trucked in.

"But the damage is very extensive, and we are basically short of everything," said Wang.

In schools, tents are being set up for some 670 students who are about to take the coming national college entrance examination.

The county education bureau has organized training on emergency evacuation for about 80 examiners and stocked up on bottled water, instant noodles and medicine for the students.

"Taking an exam in a tent is a pretty weird experience. Everyone is a bit on edge, but you just have to calm down and do the best you can," said Guo Chunyan, one of the students.

A strong earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale hit the province early on Sunday, killing three but affecting more than a million people. Seismologists have recorded more than 1,400 after-shocks in Ning'er since the quake struck.

According to the latest statistics from the Ning'er disaster relief headquarters, 242,000 houses in rural areas have been damaged, including 140,000 houses seriously damaged and and 34,300 destroyed. In addition, 12,000 houses in the urban area were damaged.