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Ministry urges more aids for calamity victims
( 2003-11-18 01:05) (China Daily)

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has urged its departments across the nation to provide more aid to help relieve the burden facing disaster victims during winter.

This year has seen more natural disasters than ever before, causing more deaths and economic losses, sources with the ministry said yesterday.

There were 2,145 deaths and economic losses totalling 188.6 billion yuan (US$22.7 billion) for the year up until last Monday, ministry statistics show.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, droughts and landslides have affected more than 6,000 hectares of farmland, destroying more than 3.4 million homes and forcing the relocation of 7 million people, according to statistics.

The ministry has sent more than 50 working groups and 3 billion yuan (US$361 million) in relief funding to disaster-stricken areas to assist, said Yang Yanyin, vice-minister of civil affairs, during a working conference on disaster relief.

As winter looms, civil affairs departments need to make more efforts to help disaster victims through the cold weather, Yang said late last week.

Frequent surveys need to be conducted to better understand people's needs and a transparent relief fund and donation management system needs to be created.

The central government has attached priority importance on improving people's lives, especially the poor and the needy, Yang said.

A heatwave plagued major areas of southern China throughout the summer with 12 provinces sweltered under extreme temperatures.

Meanwhile, heavy rain has plagued northern China for several months causing severe floods and landslides.

In another development, water and power supplies have been resumed in Ludian County in Zhaoyang in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, where an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale struck early on Saturday.

Ludian civil affairs authorities told China Daily yesterday schools have returned to normal with some homes now doubling as makeshift classrooms.

In Ludian alone, more than 170,000 items of clothing have been distributed, said the local civil affairs official.

Other vitally needed aid, particularly medical teams, have been sent from Zhaotong to undertake relief work. According to the local seismological department, the epicenter of the quake was about 255 kilometres north of the province's capital, Kunming.

Ludian County is among the country's poorest areas and receives State support. It has a population of 370,000, most of which are ethnic minorities such as Hui, Yi, Miao, Bai and Dong.

The huge amount of devastation caused by the quake has been put down to a shallow seismic focus -- merely 10 kilometres under the surface -- and the earthen walls widely used in local homes, which are far from sturdy.

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