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中国安置地震灾民压力重重

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Floodwaters released from a dammed river Tuesday washed over some towns destroyed in China's earthquake, adding urgency to a government effort to relocate people from the worst-hit areas.

Low-lying areas were submerged as soldiers drained water from a 'quake lake' formed when a nearby river was blocked by a landslide. Soldiers have used bulldozers, excavators and even missiles to carve a sluice channel and reduce the danger that the water would burst through the piles of rock and flood the city of Mianyang below.

For many survivors of the May 12 earthquake, the flooding underscored the realization that they wouldn't be able or allowed to move back to their ancestral homes. While some survivors are trickling back home to start rebuilding, tens of thousands of people here in the mountainous county of Beichuan are still waiting to find out where home might be.

China's government is seeking to relocate the population of several entire towns in the areas worst-hit by the quake.

The quake so heavily damaged some towns that they can't be rebuilt. Other places are so at risk from future earthquakes and landslides that they won't be rebuilt.

Perhaps chief among them is Beichuan, a home of the Qiang minority and site of some of the most intense damage. Landslides buried entire villages here, killing about 15,600 people out of a prequake population of 161,000. An additional 4,000 or so are still missing.

The earthquake crumbled the mountainsides surrounding Beichuan's county seat, burying a third of it in a wave of boulders that crushed buses and burst holes through buildings. The abandoned town has been slated to be turned into a museum commemorating the quake's victims, although the flooding of the town could affect those plans.

Officials are planning to relocate the county seat and hope to move more than 30,000 residents out of dangerous areas, local Communist Party secretary Song Ming told reporters at a resettlement camp here, 2.5 miles south of the abandoned town.

Mr. Song said he spent Tuesday morning helping to evacuate the scattered remaining residents in soon-to-be-flooded areas of Beichuan county.

'There's no way I can go back there and live,' says Deng Jiakun, a 71-year-old farmer from a village in Beichuan county. 'I don't know where to go next. I don't have any money and my home is gone, my farm and even my three pigs are gone,' he says, squatting on the floor of his tent in a refugee camp in Mianyang.

The homeless of Beichuan are now waiting for official guidance on where they should go. 'It's up to the government,' Mr. Deng says.

But creating new towns from scratch isn't an easy task. 'We are not only thinking about how to rebuild our homes, but about how to create industries that can provide a stable income for our people,' says Mr. Song, the Beichuan party secretary. 'We need strong support from the central government, both on the policy front and financially.'

Though the figures are far from definitive, some scholars think perhaps 200,000 inhabitants of mountainous areas in the earthquake zone will need to be permanently resettled.

Finding land, homes and jobs for that many people could be tricky. Sichuan is one of China's most densely populated provinces, where farms and cities crowd against each other. And it is hard for both quake survivors and officials to make longer-term plans as they contend with pressures from shorter-term relief operations.

'It's difficult to start talking about relocating people, because we are very sympathetic to their suffering and trying to help them,' says Chen Guojie, a professor at the Chengdu Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, one of the many academic bodies consulted on the government's relocation plans. 'But we have to think about the longer term. We need to think about what resources there are in the disaster-hit areas.'

Villages on or below steep mountain slopes are particularly vulnerable to landslides. Geologists say that the earthquake revealed that many mountain towns, like Beichuan's county seat, were in places that are unsafe for habitation.

While buildings can be strengthened to resist the shaking from an earthquake, such fortifications can't protect against tons of falling rock.

Government officials are now pledging that safety will be the top consideration in finding locations for resettlement. Towns won't be rebuilt along the fault line that produced the latest quake, or in places at risk of more geological disasters.

'There just aren't many places, so the problem is very acute,' says Huang Runqiu, director of the National Laboratory of Geohazards Prevention in Chengdu and one of the geologists evaluating possible relocation sites. He hopes that land can be conserved by resettling villagers into fewer and more densely populated towns.

Qi Ji, a vice minister of housing and construction, said last week in Beijing that the government will solicit public opinion before finalizing plans for the permanent relocation of towns.

Teams of geologists are now evaluating the area to find safe and suitable locations, and hope to issue their initial recommendations by the end of the month.

Dr. Huang says an additional evaluation of geological risks, as well as planning for the new towns, means construction is likely to start at the beginning of next year.

Until then, the homeless will be housed in thousands of units of barrack-like temporary housing being thrown up in and around Beichuan county.

Construction teams are working in shifts around the clock in hopes of having them ready for habitation before August.

China's state-run media reported that experts have recommended that Beichuan's county seat, home to about 13,000 people before the earthquake, be relocated 22 miles away to place called Bandengqiao in a nearby county. Mr. Song, Beichuan's party secretary, called Bandengqiao a 'rather ideal' location, but said it was only one of the sites being considered.

Bandengqiao is largely flat, which could be reassuring to traumatized earthquake survivors like Li Yulan, a 37-year-old mother of two from Chengjiaba, a town in Beichuan.

'We just want to go to a place where there are no mountains and no landslides,' Ms. Li says. Geologists had already deemed her home town to be one of the places unlikely to be rebuilt, and Tuesday's flooding appeared to seal its fate.

But a relocation plan driven by safety and economic concerns has already come under attack for neglecting the culture of ethnic Qiang like Ms. Li. The small population of Qiang are influenced by both Tibetan and Han Chinese culture, but retain a distinct identity, including their own polytheistic religion.

Dong Renwei, the head of the Association of Sichuan Science Writers, who has studied the Qiang, says moving the people away from their historical homeland could be devastating.

'The Qiang were badly hit by the earthquake, but they can survive that,' Mr. Dong says. 'But if they're moved it could destroy their culture.'

周二,洪水从中国四川地震灾区一座堰塞湖倾泻而出,并冲过一些在地震中被毁的城镇,令政府安置受灾最严重地区的灾民的行动更添紧迫性。

地震引发的山体滑坡阻断了河流,便形成了这座堰塞湖。而一旦湖堰溃决,位于下游的绵阳市将被洪水淹没。为了降低这种风险,中国军队动用了各种挖掘机械,甚至大炮来开出泄洪槽。在泄洪过程中,一些低洼地带被淹没。

对于5月12日大地震的一些幸存者来说,洪水让他们更加清晰地意识到:自己无法回到祖祖辈辈生活的家园。虽然一些幸存者正逐渐返乡重建家园,而位于山区的北川县的数万民众却仍在等待重建选址的确定。

中国政府正打算重新安置最重灾区几个城镇的居民。

大地震令一些城镇损毁太过严重,以致于无法重建。还有一些地方将来还会面临地震和滑坡的风险,因此也不能在原地重建。

其中最为突出的恐怕就是北川,震前有16.1万人口的北川县是羌族聚居区,也是受灾最严重的地点之一。山体滑坡令许多村庄被埋,导致1.56万人死亡。另有4,000人仍下落不明。

地震令北川县城周围的山体崩裂,从天而降的巨石碾碎了汽车,将建筑物砸得千疮百孔,并掩埋了三分之一的县城。经过规划,被弃县城将改造为博物馆,纪念震灾遇难者,但该县被洪水淹没,上述计划可能受到影响。

北川县委书记宋明在北川弃城南面2.5公里处的一个安置点对记者说,政府打算为县城重新选址,并希望将3万多名居民从危险地带转移。

宋明说,他周二上午帮助疏散了留在北川县泄洪区的零散居民。

来自北川县某村的71岁农民邓家昆(音)住在绵阳一个安置点的帐篷里。他蹲在地上说,我不可能再回去生活了,也不知道下一步该去哪儿,我一点钱也没有,房子也没了,田也没了,连养的三头猪都没有了。

无家可归的北川灾民现在正等着政府来指引他们该怎么办。邓家昆说,一切全靠政府了。

但从头修建新城镇殊非易事。北川县委书记宋明说,我们考虑的不光是怎样重建家园,还要考虑如何营建工业,为群众提供稳定的收入来源。他表示,北川需要中央政府从政策和财政方面给予大力支持。

虽然具体数字还远远难以确定,但一些学者认为,地震带山区约20万名居民需要永久性的重新安置。

为如此多的人找到足够的安置土地、建造房屋并创造工作机将是一项棘手的工作。四川是中国人口最稠密的省份之一,城乡都紧挨在一起。再有就是,无论幸存者还是政府都疲于应对眼前的救灾工作,无力进行长期规划。

成都山地灾害与环境研究所(简称:成都山地所)教授陈国阶说,开始讨论重新安置灾民这个话题是困难的,因为我们十分同情他们的遭遇,也尽力帮助他们,但我们必须想得更长远,我们得考虑受灾地区有些什么资源。成都山地所是为政府的重新安置计划提供咨询的学术机构之一。

位于陡峭山坡之上或其下方的村庄更有可能受滑坡之害。地质学家们认为,地震凸显出北川县城等许多山区城镇所处的位置都不安全。

虽然建筑物可以加固,以抵御地震造成的摇晃,但这样的加固措施不可能经得住成吨重的落石。

现在,政府官员都承诺,在为重建进行选址时,将把安全性放在首要位置。而地点不会选在本次地震的地质断层带沿线,也不会在有更多地质灾害风险的地方。

地质灾害防治国家重点实验室主任、对可能的重建选址进行评估的地质学家之一黄润秋说,可供选择的地点不多,因此问题非常棘手。他希望将村民安置在少数人口更稠密的城镇,从而节约土地。

中国建设部副部长齐骥上周在北京表示,在最终确定城镇永久重建规划之前,政府会征求公众意见。

一些地质学家团队正在对该地区进行评估,以找出安全适宜的地点,并希望在本月底之前提出初步的推荐方案。

黄润秋说,另需对地质风险进行评估,此外还要对新城镇进行规划,这意味着重建工作可能要到明年年初才能开始。

在那之前,无家可归的灾民将住在北川县及其周边正在修建的数千套临时板房里。

建筑队昼夜不停地赶工,希望在8月之前完工,供人们居住。

中国官方媒体报道称,专家们已经建议震前有13,000人的北川县城在邻县一个叫板凳桥的地方重建,距原址22英里。北川县委书记宋明说,板凳桥是个相当理想的地点,但表示它只是备选的地点之一。

对于像37岁的李玉兰(音)一样在地震中饱受创伤的幸存者来说,地势平坦的板凳桥能让他们安心。已为人母的李玉兰来自北川陈家坝镇。

李玉兰说,我们只想去没有大山、不会发生滑坡的地方。地质学家们已经认定她的家乡不可能重建,周二的洪水似乎也决定了陈家坝的命运。

但从安全和经济角度来考量的重建计划已经因忽略了羌族文化而招致批评。李玉兰就是羌族人。羌族人口不多,受到藏族和汉族文化的影响,但仍保留着鲜明的特色,包括他们自己的多神信仰。

一直对羌族进行研究的四川科普作家协会主席董仁威说,将人们迁离世代定居的家园可能造成破坏性的后果。

董仁威说,羌族在地震中遭受了严重的打击,但他们能挺住。但如果迁居,可能破坏他们的文化。
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