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Sakhalin reg gets RUR 800 mln for quake-hit Nevelsk restoration

A sum of 800 million roubles was transferred on Friday to the Sakhalin regional budget for the liquidation of the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that hit Nevelsk on August 2.

Vice governor of the Sakhalin region Natalia Novikova said that the region has received the first tranche from the total volume of federal funds earmarked by the Russian government for the town restoration efforts.

"It's a budget loan that will be further repaid by additional funds that the federal authorities will provide to us," Novikova said. "The transferred funds will be spent on the housing construction for Nevelsk residents that lost homes and restoration efforts," she added.

According to the vice governor, the regional administration is currently working on agreements on issuing of a budget credit to Nevelsk and Aniva where housing construction of quake-stricken population has started. As soon as the agreements are concluded the money will get there.

Sakhalin needs 6.6 billion roubles for the liquidation of the devastating quake aftermath.

The Finance Ministry on Wednesday transferred 800 million roubles to the Sakhalin region to make up for its expenses incurred by the construction of housing, engineering and social infrastructure, as well as repairs and reconstruction in Nevelsk seriously damaged by an earthquake in August, the ministry's press service said.

The money was transferred as part of the government's resolution on financial assistance in the amount of up to two billion roubles to help Sakhalin deal with the consequences of the devastating earthquake.

Sakhalin Vice Governor Sergei Vilyamov said it was necessary to spend 6.6 billion roubles on post-crisis rehabilitation work in Nevelsk. The construction of such major objects as a school, a sport complex, a recreation centre, and shore development will start in 2008-2009.

On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Sakhalin after the earthquake that hit the island on August 2. Zubkov assured Putin that he would check into the matter and take measures to provide funding to the region.

According to Vilyamov, full lists of people who lost their homes in the natural calamity have been submitted to the federal government. Documents for receiving financial aid have also been sent to the government.

The demolition of buildings and structures beyond repair, as well as restoration of important social facilities - schools, kindergartens, and housing -- is currently underway in Nevelsk with all work being financed out of the regional budget. New buildings are being constructed with enterprises' own floating funds and credits attracted by builders. Two 12-flat prefabricated houses have already been assembled in the northern district of Nevelsk. Finishing work is underway there. Another 10 foundations for similar houses have been laid.

"We are planning to build 61,000 square metres of housing in Nevelsk and 48,000 square metres in the Troitskoye settlement (near Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk). There is no doubt that by the end of the year we will build most of the houses if the weather is good. All contractors have presented real schedules of fulfilment of obligations assumed for Nevelsk. As soon as the financing from the federal budget starts the work will be naturally accelerated," Vilyamov said.

As many as 7,500 town dwellers lost homes in the strong earthquake.

After the devastating earthquake a total of 954 people, including 538 children, were evacuated from the affected area. Over 900 people have been accommodated at temporary residence centres, children's homes, sanatoriums and preventive therapy centres, some are staying with their relatives.

The August 2 earthquake in which Nevelsk was hit the worst had a magnitude of 6.8 points on the Richter scale. After that, 14 aftershocks were registered in the vicinity of Nevelsk; most of them had a magnitude of more than five points.

The power of the shocks reduced with distance. People in the island's major commercial port city of Kholmsk experienced the shocks of 5.0 to 6.0 points, while the regional capital Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk had a mere 3.0 to 4.0 points, according to Sakhalin seismologists.

Two people died in the quake in Nevelsk, 12 were injured, 34 people applied for medical aid over the aggravation of cardiovascular diseases.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov may visit the Sakhalin Island in December to see how plans for the restoration of the quake-hit town of Nevelsk are being put into practice, governor of the Sakhalin region Alexander Khoroshavin told his press service by telephone from Moscow on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the governor took part in a meeting on issues of the liquidation of the aftermath of the strong earthquake that rocked the south of Sakhalin on August 2.

Khoroshavin said that the next meeting with the government head devoted to Nevelsk is preliminarily scheduled for November 1. "It is not ruled out that Viktor Zubkov will visit Sakhalin in December in order to look on site how plans for the restoration of the Nevelsk town damaged by the earthquake are being put into practice," Khoroshavin was quoted by his press service as saying.

The Sakhalin governor said that at the meeting the Sakhalin region administration raised before Zubkov and the Russian government the issues of enhancement of seismic resistance of apartment houses and social infrastructure facilities. "We cited statistics on earthquakes that had serious negative consequences, they occur in our region practically every two-three years," said the governor. According to Khoroshavin, "the premier gave a commend to look through the programme of seismic resistance enhancement in Sakhalin."

At the cabinet meeting on Thursday Zubkov criticised government officials for ineffective implementation of resolutions on the elimination of after-effects of recent earthquakes on Sakhalin.

Meanwhile, South Korean doctors on Friday launched a humanitarian action for Nevelsk residents. They will for five days be providing medical aid to the population of the town of Nevelsk. The action will be held within the framework of the Doctors Without Borders project. The South Korean group of medics comprises 22 specialists in different ailments.

One of the leaders of Sakhalin Koreans Viktor Kim Bok Kon said earlier that the doctors will be working in Nevelsk, as well as at evacuation centres in the Lastochka children's home (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk) and Yubileiny vacation hotel (Bereznyaki settlement).

South Korean doctors had provided free medical aid to Sakhalin residents also in the past - they used to arrive in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for a week and received patients in a sanatorium. Now they have decided to hold the humanitarian action exclusively for Nevelsk residents.

© Itar-Tass

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