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Quake site set up safely for visitors

THE ruins of Beichuan County, the area in Sichuan Province most damaged by last year's massive earthquake, are expected to have a trial opening for visitors before May 12, according to the county's tourism bureau.

The opening will be before the first anniversary of the disaster which killed more than 69,000 people, according to tourism bureau Director Lin Chuan in yesterday's Tianfu Morning Post.

The government decided to plan the earthquake ruins as a tourism site and set up infrastructure such as toilets and basic accommodation, to meet increasing visitor demand, Lin told the Sichuan-based newspaper.

Visitors will be required to register and must be guided during the whole tour in the ruined area to ensure their safety and to preserve unstable quake ruins. Admission might be free.

The county will rebuild a gate of the former central town of Beichuan County, 160 kilometers from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan, at the entrance to the ruins for registration of visitors, according to Lin.

A "one-day package tour" has also been designed including a stop at the site of Beichuan Middle School where many students were killed, with two other stops at villages featuring minority ethnic cultures.

The government will also set up a special platform for condolences and prayers for the victims. The size of the platform has not been decided, but will range from 200 square meters to 400 square meters, according to the report.

Beichuan County was moved to a new location in Yongchang Town after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 last year. Survivors of the earthquake have also been relocated to new residences.

Tourism bureau statistics show that more than 200,000 people from all over the country have visited the devastated areas since the earthquake. People mostly come to mourn the victims and visit the relics, especially the site of Beichuan Middle School, Lin said.

Visitor numbers soared to about 40,000 people on the first two days of Chinese New Year. Vehicles queued along the entrance into the ruins, according to Lin.

As there are no proper arrangements for traffic and tourists at the quake site, visitors are exposed to risks and danger, the director explained.


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