Yaan earthquake

Xi Jinping in surprise inspection of Sichuan quake towns

President visits school, rebuilt after 2008 with Hong Kong aid, that survived last month's quake

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 8:22am

President Xi Jinping yesterday visited areas of Sichuan hit hardest by last month's magnitude 7 earthquake, meeting survivors and inspecting reconstruction work at a Hong Kong-funded school building.

It was his first visit to Lushan county in Yaan, the epicentre of the April 20 quake that left more than 200 people dead, at least 13,000 injured and millions homeless.

Xi arrived at the Lushan County Stadium at 2.30pm and stayed for more than 10 minutes, showing his concern for survivors sheltering at the biggest resettlement centre in town, which has been home to more than 2,000 people since the quake. Witnesses said he went into temporary dwellings and asked residents if they were well fed.

He then went to Longmen township to meet students and teachers at Longxing Central School, which was rebuilt after the 7.8 earthquake in 2008 with the help of an 8.6 million yuan (HK$10.8 million) donation from the Hong Kong government.

The school suffered no major damage in last month's quake and remains structurally sound. Officials said no one was injured at the school and pupils had resumed classes in temporary classrooms.

School principal Wang Zhiqiang said the president stayed for about 50 minutes, joining a class meeting and a music class, where he donated schoolbags and stationery for pupils and a piano to the school.

"The president encouraged the students to study hard to repay the concern of society," Wang said, adding that Xi's visit was a complete surprise.

Wang Tianling, a teacher at the school, said the fifth-grade children were giving speeches about their ambitions when Xi and other top officials, including Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli , walked in.

After a boy said spoke of how he wanted to be an architect to design buildings that would survives earthquakes, Xi praised the pupils and encouraged them to study hard to fulfil their dreams.

Xi said he was very worried when he heard about the latest quake until he realised that the casualties were not that serious, the teacher said. He sent Premier Li Keqiang to the same county on the day after the quake

Residents told Xi that supplies of food, water and electricity had mostly returned to normal.

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