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In the path of destruction

2013-12-11 10:09 Global Times Web Editor: Wang Fan

When debris from the heavens fell upon the property of Yang Weihan in Xiaotian village in Suining county, Central China's Hunan Province, at 1:30 am on December 2, it smashed a hole in his granary and a ton of rice was ruined by falling beams.  [Special coverage]

The destruction was caused by falling pieces of the moon-probe Chang'e-3, which was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Despite the bizarre nature of this disaster, it's not the first time this has happened in the area. Villagers say the place has become a danger zone for falling debris from rocket launches.

A woman surnamed Wang, from a neighboring village, said she sees this kind of debris several times a year, ranging from about 10 kilograms to as much as 100 kilograms, and that all the villagers are frightened.

"Even they are evacuated from the area, they are afraid that their houses will be damaged," Wang was quoted by the Guangzhou Daily as saying.

The falling debris has created more problems than simply outright destruction. Compensation for damage to property has become a focal issue. At present, the local government provides compensation for damage to property, along with the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, the village's Party chief, surnamed Huang, told the Global Times.

But now, insurance experts are saying that China's lack of third party liability insurance is causing disputes, and creating headaches and expenses for both governments and residents.

Compensation concerns

The fears reach beyond the immediate neighborhood.

Yang Gu (pseudonym), Yang Weihan's son, who lives in Foshan, South China's Guangdong Province, told the Global Times he fears for his parents, who he says have seen falling debris on "many" occasions.

The incident on December 2 damaged another property as well, but fortunately no injuries were caused, Zeng Jiancheng, an official from the county's People's Armed Forces Department told the Global Times.

After inspections, Yang was given compensation of 10,800 yuan ($1,772) and Yuan Shifa, another property owner affected - whose house was hit by a 1.5-meter long piece of rocket - received 5,200 yuan.

"We don't care how much money is offered," Yang Gu said. "My 72-year-old father and 66-year-old mother can't stand the shock of the debris. When it falls it's like thunder. The government should also consider the damage to their emotional well-being."

"Every time, the evacuation is conducted at night, which really influences people's rest," Yang Gu said. "On the day of the launch, we feel very worried that the debris might damage our houses or injure people."

The debris from satellites launched by the Xichang center usually falls in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, in Southwest China's Guizhou Province and Suining county.

Since the 1990s, 11 townships in the county have witnessed falling debris on approximately 20 occasions, the Changsha-based Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported.

Most of the debris has been submitted to relevant authorities, Zeng said, declining to specify which department collected them as he said it involves "military secret."

Chang'e-3 Moon Probe Launch

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