July 26, 2008 / 12:38 PM / 11 years ago

Parents of China quake victims can have second child

BEIJING (Reuters) - Couples whose only child was killed or seriously injured in the May 12 Sichuan province earthquake may have another, winning an exemption from China’s strict family planning rules, the China Daily said on Saturday.

A grieving parent is assisted by relatives as she cries in front of the rubble of the Beichuan Number One Middle School, located around 150 km (93 miles) north of Chengdu in Sichuan Province June 12, 2008, where around 700 children died during last month's massive earthquake. Couples whose only child was killed or seriously injured in the May 12 Sichuan province earthquake may have another, winning an exemption from China's strict family planning rules, the China Daily said on Saturday. REUTERS/David Gray

The standing committee of the provincial People’s Congress passed rules on Friday setting out which couples would be allowed to have more children, the paper reported.

“Both officials and ordinary people said parents whose children died or were crippled in the quake had to be permitted to have another,” said Wang Yukun, vice-chairman of the standing committee.

More than 87,000 people were killed or are missing as a result of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake in the mountainous province in southwestern China.

Many of the dead were children because the earthquake struck during the school day and many school buildings collapsed, triggering calls by parents for investigations of allegations that official corruption had led to shoddy construction.

Chinese officials have faced pressure from many angry and distraught parents whose only children were killed in the disaster.

The New York Times reported this week that some parents of the 10,000 children estimated to have died in the quake have been put under pressure to sign agreements and accept cash payments in exchange for dropping their complaints.

Government officials have said reconstruction efforts for the millions of displaced people will take years, and the arduous task has been complicated by aftershocks that continue to rattle the area.

The latest, a series of three jolts that hit the area on Thursday, killed one person and injured more than a dozen.

The China Daily report said a Deyang city survey showed that more than 90 percent of parents whose children were killed in the quake are aged 20-49 and that more than 74 percent plan to have another child. The sample size was not disclosed.

The paper cited a provincial population and family planning commission official as saying more than 5,200 Sichuan parents whose children were killed or crippled by the quake will get 100 yuan ($15) a month each, to be paid at the end of the year.

Reporting by Ken Wills, editing by Tim Pearce

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