Earthquake Victims to Be Housed

Authorities on the far eastern island of Sakhalin have pledged to build 60,000 square meters of living space by the end of the year to accommodate victims of an earthquake that struck the island on Aug. 2. The quake, measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, killed two people and made thousands homeless.

"Plans for this year include 60,000 square meters of living space and 1,030 apartments," regional Governor Alexander Khoroshavin said, Interfax reported Tuesday.

"There are 1,030 families that we would like to see resettled by the New Year," Khoroshavin said.

Around 1,350 families have now expressed their desire to remain on the island, he said.

The plan is ultimately to create 80,000 square meters of living space, he said.

The most recent pronouncements from local authorities come on the heels of renewed pressure from the federal government.

In his first government meeting as prime minister in September, Viktor Zubkov attacked the pace of efforts to provide relief for earthquake victims.

Zubkov criticized delays to emergency funding to help people in Sakhalin and said 110,000 square meters of new housing needed to be built.

In early August, then-governor of Sakhalin Ivan Malakhov was forced to resign. The move was not connected with the local authorities' response to the earthquake, federal officials claimed.