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Woman freed after 9 days under quake rubble

Rescuers saved a 35-year-old woman who survived nine days trapped in a tunnel despite multiple fractures, the only survivor found Wednesday in the rubble of China's massive quake zone.
Soldiers clean broken glass from a road in Hanwang town Wednesday next to buildings destroyed by last week's earthquake in China.
Soldiers clean broken glass from a road in Hanwang town Wednesday next to buildings destroyed by last week's earthquake in China.Oded Balilty / AP
/ Source: news services

Rescuers saved a 35-year-old woman who survived nine days trapped in a tunnel despite multiple fractures, the only survivor found Wednesday in the rubble of China's massive quake zone.

Meanwhile, the government ordered state agencies to cut planned spending by 5 percent this year, which will go to create a $10 billion reconstruction fund, the State Council, China's Cabinet, said in a statement.

Some signs of normalcy returned to the quake area, as schools opened in some of the camps where the homeless were being housed, but a lack of tents underscored the massive task facing the government in sheltering 5 million who lost their homes.

Countries and organizations heeded China's call for help in sheltering some of the homeless. The U.N. refugee agency said it has offered 11,000 tents, and the European Union offered 7,500 tents along with blankets and medical supplies.

As China switches to reconstruction and recovery operations, state media said the government plans to rebuild Beichuan city, one of the hardest hit, in a new location.

Monument planned
"Safety is the top priority in selecting a new location and reconstruction," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Beichuan Communist Party chief Song Ming as saying. "We plan to build a monument and a memorial to commemorate the quake victims on the previous location."

The quake survivor found Wednesday, Cui Changhui, had been trapped in a water diversion tunnel at the hydropower plant construction site in Hongbai town in Sichuan province, Xinhua reported.

She was taken by helicopter to a hospital to treat multiple fractures in her right arm, ribs and lower back, but Dr. Pu Jinhui said her injuries were not life-threatening, according to the report.

Near the epicenter at Chengdu's Qingyang district sports center, 9-year-old Gao Luwei played with friends after attending classes in the camp's one-room elementary school.

"I don't know how long we'll be here, but I hope we are here the shortest time possible," said Gao, whose regular school in the resort town of Dujiangyan was damaged in the earthquake that killed more than 41,000 people.

Warning to buildersHundreds of distraught relatives placed wreaths along the road leading to Fuxing primary school in Wufu, where at least 127 children were crushed to death.

They hoisted a banner reading "The children did not die of a natural disaster but of an unsafe building."

"An answer must be given to our children," said Li Xiaoping, whose 11-year-old son was among the dead. "There is a problem with the buildings ... all the buildings here did not collapse except for this one building."

Li Rongrong, head of the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission and the man in charge of overseeing China's huge state sector, told a news conference in Beijing that generally construction companies under him were very good.

But he added: "If these buildings (which collapsed) were built by major state-owned firms, we will take severe measures."

In Yinhua town, where more than 200 pupils died, a woman who lost her 13-year-old daughter said the school building originally had two levels in 1993, but it illegally added two more levels later.

"When it collapsed it was just fragments, not blocks. That shows how badly built it was," said Luo Zaihong.

A petition was also circulated in Juyuan town, where 500 or more pupils died in the ruins of the local middle school, demanding punishment of officials or builders responsible for shoddy schools, and compensation.

As the ruling Communist Party seeks to maintain a staunch front of unity and stability after the quake, the incipient protests by parents could be troublesome, for many of them blame official graft and laxity, more than nature, for the deaths.

'Semblance of normalcy'
Deng Yaping, four-time Olympic gold medalist in table tennis and an organizer with the Beijing Olympics, was shown on state TV talking to schoolchildren in a classroom in a blue tent in Mianyang, north of the provincial capital, Chengdu.

Two big tents were set up on basketball courts to serve as a school, but each class met for only an hour because of the lack of space.

"It is different from our school but the teacher is very nice. We don't have homework now so we can play," said Li Hong, whose school farther north in Beichuan was destroyed.

An official said it was important for children to return to their established routines of school and play to help overcome the trauma of loss.

"The most important thing is to return some semblance of normalcy to the kids' lives," said Zhu Jiang, a Chengdu city official who acts as spokesman for the camp.

"We don't want them to feel like they're refugees, but like they've simply moved to another place for a sort of extended holiday," he said.

Cabinet spokesman Guo Weimin said the confirmed death toll from the earthquake rose to 41,353 on Wednesday. He told reporters another 32,666 remained missing. Officials expect the final death toll to exceed 50,000.

State-owned companies suffered losses worth $4.29 billion in the disaster, Li Rongrong, chairman of the state body that oversees the enterprises, told reporters in Beijing.

Officials said earlier this week that all companies had been hit with $9.5 billion in losses from the quake.

On the last day of a three-day official mourning period for quake victims, a crowd of some 2,000 people in Beijing's Tiananmen Square who had been chanting "Go China!" grew quiet in a display of mourning at 2:28 p.m., the exact time the May 12 quake rattled central Sichuan province.

After a hiatus during the mourning period, the Olympic torch relay was scheduled to restart on Thursday. Other plans for the games also were going forward.

Eight pandas from the world-famous Wolong Giant Panda Reserve, which is only 20 miles from the quake's epicenter, are expected to arrive by plane in Beijing this weekend to go on display for the Olympics, a spokesman for the Beijing Zoo said.

The pandas will be on display at the zoo until November, as part of a trip planned before the disaster.

Tibetan protests halted
The earthquake has evoked an emotional response among the Chinese public, and prompted more than $1.8 billion in donations from organizations and individuals.

The State Council said in a statement Wednesday that the country's top anti-corruption office will deal sternly with officials who misuse or delay distribution of relief money. Officials have said they will make public the information on where relief money comes from and where it goes.

Meanwhile, the Tibetan government-in-exile called for a temporary stop to anti-China protests "to express our solidarity" with quake victims, according to a Tuesday evening statement.

The quake area is near Tibetan parts of China that saw unrest earlier this year when authorities cracked down on anti-government riots.