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Natural disasters cost China 100 billion yuan a year
( 2003-10-08 20:59) (Xinhua)

Natural disasters have affected on average 200 million people and cost 100 billion yuan (US$12.05 billion) a year in China over the last 10 years, figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs show.

And the government says the damage and tragedy caused by natural misfortunes are "snowballing".

The warning came as China marked the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Oct. 8, which this year has the theme of " Turning the tide on disasters towards sustainable development".

"Along with the development of the national economy, losses caused by natural catastrophes have been snowballing year after year," said Li Xueju, Minister of Civil Affairs, adding that China suffered a high incidence of natural calamities.

China had historically been frequently hit by natural hazards, said Li, citing recent disasters such as the flooding of the Yangtze River, northeast China's Songhua River and its major tributary, the Nenjiang River, in 1998, flooding in south China's Taihu Lake in 1999 and continual droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes across the nation from 1999 to 2001.

In February this year, a devastating earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale struck the Kashi region of western Xinjiang, including Bachu and Jiashi, killing 268 people and affecting more than 650,000 people.

Also this year, earthquakes hit Dayao County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, droughts occurred in northern areas in spring and in southern areas in summer, the worst flooding since 1954 affected the Huaihe River in July, and flooding, forest fires, landslides, mud-rock flows and agricultural pests were widespread.

"The government has been making arduous efforts to reduce losses caused by natural disasters and investing more in disaster prevention and environment protection," Li said.

Most of this year's disaster-affected areas were still under reconstruction, but social stability had been maintained, said the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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