China quake losses may cross USD30 billion
A government minister today said that reconstruction of the industries and utilities damaged by the May 12 earth quake will be a "long process taking a lot of time". The quake caused damage to building and machinery of 12,563 industrial enterprises in Sichuan resulting in a "direct loss" of $7 billion.
The cost of reconstruction is yet to be worked out. The loss to agriculture including chicken and animal rearing has been put at $9.5 billion. Once it is fully estimated, the losses suffered due to damage to agriculture farms, utilities and production losses of companies in the quake hit region will take the figure of total losses is expected to exceed $30 billion, informed sources said.
The havoc sent the entire area into darkness and snapped telecommunication lines, making it extremely difficult for rescue workers to identify, search and save trapped people.
But power and phone utilities could not immediately react to the situation as it was nearly impossible to transport suitable equipment to carry out the task of restoration, Xi Guohua. Vice minister for industry and information technology, said at a press conference today.
Heavy rains that took place immediately after the quake struck made it very difficult to carry heavy equipment to the affected parts. Roads were either cracked or blocked by falling rocks, which made it difficult to move the necessary machinery. But hundreds of pieces of equipment have now been moved after the rains abated and repairs were carried out on the roads, he said.
The government has sent out orders to closely monitor all the 26 dams in the Minjiang and Jialing river basins located in Sichuan because of fears of more landslides and damage by continuing after-shocks, Gu Junyuan, chief engineer of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said.
The government has moved six large diesel generators. 245 small generators. 38 excavators. 300 loaders and 400 tonnes of steel for relief in the affected areas, he said.
Gu said electricity supply has now been restored in the main city areas of Mianyang, Deyang and Guangyuan besides 11 counties under Mianyang, Deyang and Aba Perfecture that had been hit by the quake. But there was still work to be done as the epicentre areas in Wenchuan County are still in darkness, sources said.
Xu said radio frequencies used by the restored telecommunication lines are being closely monitored to ensure they do not disturb the frequencies used by helicopters and airplanes, he said.
The quake also resulted in damage to seven power plants, vast quantities of power and telecommunication lines besides knocking out many base stations for mobile phones.
Four transmission lines of 220 kilovolt to 500 kilovolt were also put out of service, Gu said.
On the telecommunications front, the disaster caused extensive damage to 616 switching offices, 16,507 wireless base stations for mobile phones and 10.960 kilometres of optic cable. This resulted in communication blockades in seven of the counties of Sichuan province. The call put-through rate dropped to 10 per cent causing endless hardship to rescue teams trying to reach out to the affected people. Communication disruption also took place in five of the counties in the neighbouring Gansu province.