India may abandon destroyed towns

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The Independent Online

Damage from last month's Gujarat earthquake, which killed at least 30,000 people, is so bad that the Indian government is considering abandoning some towns and villages in the worst-affected area and moving their inhabitants into new settlements built from scratch.

Damage from last month's Gujarat earthquake, which killed at least 30,000 people, is so bad that the Indian government is considering abandoning some towns and villages in the worst-affected area and moving their inhabitants into new settlements built from scratch.

Bhachau, a town of 40,000 people, was almost completely destroyed by the quake on 26 January, and any buildings left standing will have to be razed. Anjar, 25 miles away, was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1953: most of the buildings put up since survived the latest disaster, but the centre, which was merely patched up half a century ago, collapsed.

According to local press reports, Gujarat is seeking £33bn from the central government in Delhi for reconstruction. The head of a task force set up to oversee rebuilding said the scale of the job was "mindboggling". An early estimate put the number of houses destroyed at 75,000, with another 140,000 damaged.

Unicef, the United Nations children's charity, said that in the Kutch region 1,700 primary schools had been destroyed, more than half the total.

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