Provinces invest in disaster prevention

Updated: 2011-07-20 07:53

By Wang Qian (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The country is facing a high risk of geological disasters from July until September this year, China's land watchdog warned on Tuesday.

"Because the severe drought before May loosened the soil, sudden heavy rains increase the possibilities of triggering geological disasters, such as mudslides," Wang Min, vice-minister of land and resources, said in Beijing on Tuesday at a national videoconference on strengthening the prevention of geological disasters.

Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Chongqing and Hunan are areas highly vulnerable to geological disasters after July, when the flood season peaks, he added.

From January to June, a total of 10,710 geological disasters hit the country, a year-on-year decrease of more than 45 percent, according to statistics released by the ministry on Tuesday.

About 97 people were killed and 49 injured in the first half of the year, causing direct economic losses of about 939 million yuan ($144 million), according to the statistics.

A notice released by the ministry on Tuesday warned that besides the geological disasters triggered by the natural disasters, such as rainstorms and typhoon, local authorities should pay attention to geological disasters triggered by construction projects, especially for water resources, railways and highways.

Wei Hong, executive deputy governor of Sichuan province, said at the conference that 2 billion yuan will be invested this year in improving the local geological disaster prevention system.

Geological disasters are becoming more frequent after the Wenchuan earthquake, posing a great challenge in guaranteeing people's safety and avoiding economic losses, he added.

Gu Chaoxi, deputy governor of Yunnan province, which also faces high risks of geological disasters, vowed to invest at least 10 billion yuan within 10 years in the local disaster prevention and assessment system.

Shi Peijun, deputy director of the National Committee of Disaster Relief, who was in charge of drawing up a risk map for natural disasters in China, said it is good to see the authorities are paying attention to geological and natural disasters, as extreme weather is becoming frequent.

The decision-makers should consider the potential natural and geological disasters during city planning to avoid possible casualties and economic losses, he added.