2008-05-22 04:42:56 GMT 2008-05-22 12:42:56 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
CHENGDU, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The government of Beichuan, the worst-hit county in the May 12 earthquake, has resumed operation in the neighboring county of Anxian in southwestern Sichuan Province on Thursday morning.
The government's temporary office formally opened at around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at the five-story Tianlong Hotel in Anchang Township, some 20 kilometers away from the Qushan Township, where the government was original located.
A board written with the characters Temporary Office of the People's Government of Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County is hung onthe hotel entrance.
All the departments of the county's government have also moved into the hotel.
"Our previous office buildings collapsed, but our responsibilities never," said Ma Yun, head of the county's administrative office.
Local authorities also plan to rebuild the county seat of Beichuan, which was almost leveled in the 8.0-magnitude quake, at a new site in Anxian county, according to a preliminary plan yet to be approved by government.
The exact location was yet to be decided, but it was likely to be on the flat land of what is currently neighboring Anxian County,20 kilometers away.
Ma Yun declined to make comment on the new location of the county seat, saying it is up to the higher government to make the final decision.
Not a single building remains safe in the town where 8,600 of the 13,000 residents were killed, said Beichuan's Communist Party chief, Song Ming.
"Safety is the top priority in selecting a new location and reconstruction," said Song Ming. "We plan to build a monument and a memorial to commemorate the quake victims on the previous location."
Beichuan, 90 kilometers from the epicenter, Wenchuan, has its present county seat in Qushan Township, which is surrounded by hills 500 meters to 1,000 meters high.
Its low-lying original county seat lay directly over a geological fracture zone, where quakes have frequently taken place in previous centuries, and it was encircled by mountains, leaving the buildings at a high risk of landslides, said Wu Zhenhan, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.
"The new location should avoid mountainous areas," he said.
The provincial government had finished a draft plan of Beichuan county's reconstruction, including site selection of the new county seat, the reconstruction of the other townships and survivor resettlement, said a provincial government official, who declined to give his name.
"The plan also gives the scale of reconstruction and the budget," said the official, who refused to give details. "Safety is absolutely the top concern of the government."
Beichuan Autonomous County of Qiang Nationality, in northern Sichuan Province, has a population of 160,000 and is under the jurisdiction of Mianyang City.