Thursday, August 14, 2008

China withdraws more soldiers from quake-hit zone

China announced on Wednesday it was withdrawing more troops and armed police from its southwestern provinces hit by the deadly May 12 earthquake.

The move comes after Tuesday's announcement that around 10 million quake survivors had been resettled in temporary shelters.

About 80,000 soldiers were scheduled to leave the quake-battered zone in groups starting on Wednesday. The withdrawal mission was to be finished before Aug. 27, according to military sources.

The move followed an earlier withdrawal of 40,000 soldiers starting on July 21, all of whom had returned to their barracks.

The government had mobilized about 130,000 troops, armed police and reservists to help with the relief work after the disaster. The two week withdrawal exercise would leave more than 3,800 engineers, army air corps and medical experts in the area to help with the relief, the military sources said.

The 80,000 troops had completed their task and were expected to resume life in the barracks at an early date after the withdrawal.

No details were given on the exact date of the large-scale withdrawal or the means of transport.

The first withdrawal in late July left more than 80,000 soldiers in the quake-battered zone, where they continued to restore transport avenues, prevent quake-triggered secondary disasters, clear debris and relocate quake survivors.

About 10 million people, or 4.45 million households, had moved into makeshift housing by last Wednesday, a Sichuan Provincial Government official said on Tuesday at a press conference.


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