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Beijing to get 100 emergency shelters
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14:49, November 06, 2007

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Beijing authorities are planning to increase the number of emergency shelters downtown to 100, to ready the city for natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The plan, unveiled by the Beijing urban planning administration, said more than 100 shelters will be built over the next few years, meaning people living and working in the downtown area will never be more than a 20-minute walk from the nearest one, the Beijing News reported yesterday.

Liu Songqing, deputy director of the Beijing seismological bureau, said: "The potential damage caused by earthquakes will increase with fast-paced urbanization."

The capital has not been hit by a major earthquake in more than 30 years.

Tremors from a powerful quake in 1976, in Tangshan, Hebei Province, 200 km east of Beijing, saw 189 people killed in the capital alone.

Liu said that as a mega-city, Beijing provides enormous opportunities for people to work and live and should similarly be able to protect its residents in case of emergencies.

Hosting massive events, such as next year's Olympics, makes the construction of emergency facilities even more pressing, he added.

Liu said 20 to 30 new shelters will be built each year, to provide protection for up to 2 million people.

The city built its first emergency shelter in 2003. So far, there are 28 locations able to serve as shelters with a capacity to hold 2 million people.

Almost all residents, however, are unaware of such places and how to use them.

A recent survey by Renmin University showed close to half the 650 people polled were unaware of the emergency shelters, with just over half not knowing the location of the one nearest their homes.

Haidian, Yuan-Dynasty Relics and Chaoyang parks are the major locations for temporary shelters.

In the Yuan-Dynasty Relics Park, a series of facilities providing medical treatment, drinking water and power generation have been built under hills.

Source: China Daily

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