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
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.