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Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov ordered Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin
Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov ordered Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Thursday to track down 1 billion rubles ($41 million) of missing reconstruction money for a quake-hit Far East region.

An earthquake struck Sakhalin Island on August 2, claiming four lives, leaving 8,000 people homeless and inflicting damage estimated at over 11 billion rubles ($400 million). The worst-hit town was Nevelsk, located 60km (37 miles) from the island's capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.

"We have held several conferences [on restoration work in Nevelsk], and I remember all the figures by heart.... A billion [rubles] got lost somewhere en route. All instructions we have given should be revised and analyzed," Zubkov, a former financial regulator, told a Cabinet session after a visit to Nevelsk.

On government instructions dated August 9, the Russian Finance Ministry allocated 2 billion rubles ($82 million) to the Sakhalin Region administration. Local authorities estimated relief work alone would cost 6.5 billion rubles ($266 million).

"We should make sure that the funding guaranteed for facilities being built there is delivered," the premier said.

Zubkov said although new housing was being built in Nevelsk, several issues remained to be placed under government control. The premier has instructed Sakhalin Region Governor Alexander Khoroshavin to draft a more precise schedule for building housing in the first quarter of 2008.


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