Gov't budgets US$388 bln for disaster relief
Updated: 2006-09-14 10:50

China's central government has budgeted 3.1 billion yuan (US$388 million) for disaster relief and reconstruction work so far this year, an official with China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday.

"This year China has suffered the most severe natural disasters since 1998," said Li Liguo, vice civil affairs minister.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said that as of September 11, natural disasters had killed 2,295 Chinese people and left 564 missing. The disasters caused direct economic losses of 191.8 billion yuan and over 13.2 million people were evacuated and relocated.

Almost 6 million houses were severely damaged or destroyed.

Li said this year's death toll, economic losses, number of people affected and number of houses destroyed were all higher than the average for the past eight years.

Li said this year's natural disasters occurred earlier, were more violent and lasted longer. They were also more frequent and assumed a variety of forms.

Since May, Fujian Province has suffered seven bouts of large-scale flooding and typhoons, that also hit provinces of Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Heavy rainfall south of the Yangtze River arrived a month earlier than previous years, and in the period July to mid-August, a new typhoon tore into China every nine days.

Li cited typhoons Pearl, Saomai and Bilis, saying that China has never seen so many typhoons barreling in so close upon one another. Floods swamped the south, while northern and western regions were ravaged by drought.

The ministry said Chongqing Municipality and Sichuan Province have suffered searing heat and a lack of rain since the beginning of summer.

Although the flooding period is coming to an end, relief work still faces great challenges since so many people needed to be relocated and houses reconstructed before winter.