A boy looks at a flooded campus after a significant water decline in Zhouqu County, northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 24, 2010. After days of dredge work in the Bailong River, Zhouqu witnessed a significant decline of the water level, flood on some of the street began to subside. (Xinhua/Liang Qiang)
LANZHOU, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- China plans to spend 2.23 billion yuan (328 million U.S. dollars) to improve disaster prevention systems in a mountainous northwest China town devastated by a landslide earlier this month, local officials said Tuesday.
The planned multi-billion yuan project to prevent further geological disasters in Zhouqu County, south of Gansu Province, had passed reviews by experts from the Ministry of Land and Resources, said Guo Yuhu, vice-director of the provincial land and resources department.
The plan is scheduled to be carried out in three phases from 2010 to 2012, Guo said.
Guo noted that the project includes improving disaster warning systems, drawing up emergency resettlement plans, conducting a thorough study of the geological disaster hazards, and setting up a capable monitoring network.
A late-night avalanche of mud and rocks roared down the mountain slopes in the county seat of Zhouqu on Aug. 8, burying villages and blocking the Bailong River, a major regional river.
At least 1,447 people were killed and 318 remain missing, according to the latest government information.
The mudslide left a thick layer of sludge, about 5 kilometer long and 500 meters wide, in the center of the town. Many bodies are believed to be buried in the mud, but authorities banned their recovery on Sunday due to concerns over public health.
A man walks on a mud-coverd street after a significant water decline in Zhouqu County, northwest China's Gansu Province, Aug. 24, 2010. After days of dredge work in the Bailong River, Zhouqu witnessed a significant decline of the water level, flood on some of the street began to subside. (Xinhua/Liang Qiang)
Zhouqu has been frequently hit by earthquakes, landslides and mud flows, but geological experts and residents blamed the sloppy construction of mudslide barriers, lack of adequate monitoring and warning systems, and rapid urban development as causes of the catastrophe.
Separately, students from local schools will begin their new term on Wednesday, 10 days later than the original date.
Pupils from two primary schools will attend Zhouqu No.1 Middle School for their classes, since their campus was destroyed by the mudslide and swollen floodwater from Bailong River.
Also, 3,000 senior students from Zhouqu No.1 Senior Middle School will be transferred to schools in larger cities Lanzhou and Dingxi in Gansu province.
A one-week long psychological consultation will be held for both students and teachers who are depressed following the loss of families, friends, colleagues and students.
"Every class will accept a mental health lesson focusing on the recovery from grief each day," said Han Lezhong, president of Zhouqu No.3 Junior Middle School.8 Meanwhile, the water level on the streets of Zhouqu's town has dropped significantly as the blocked waterway of Bailong River has been dredged.
Xinhua reporters watched as some local residents began to clear the debris and mud from their shops and houses after the flood waters receded.