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Recent natural disasters cost 1,326 lives
By Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-14 22:48

Natural disasters have claimed more than 1,300 lives and created huge economic losses this year in China.

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs show that 1,326 people died in natural disasters in the first nine months of this year and another 186 are missing.

More than 170 million people have been affected by the disasters including floods, droughts, landslides, typhoons and earthquakes.

The total direct economic losses across the country are estimated to exceed 90.6 billion yuan (US$10.9 billion), statistics show.

Though large scale cross-region floods did not occur this year along major rivers, floods in certain areas caused huge losses, said Yang Yanyin, vice-minister of civil affairs.

The flooding in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality and Sichuan Province is believed to be the largest flood peak since 1998 after continuous torrential rains in late August and early September.

The death toll of flood victims in Southwest China exceeded 180 and left more than 60 others missing.

Most of the deaths were caused by landslides, mud-and-rock flow and flash floods sweeping through mountain valleys.

Earthquakes measuring higher than 5 on the Richter scale occurred in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Northwest China's Qinghai Province.

Inner Mongolia also suffered severe droughts early this spring, causing huge economic losses.

The central government has so far allocated more than 5.8 billion yuan (US$700 million) for disaster relief work, statistics show.

The ministry has urged civil affairs departments across the nation to make more efforts in disaster monitoring and prevention and to provide more aid to disaster victims, Yang said in Beijing on Wednesday to mark the 15th International Disaster Reduction Day.

Disaster relief work carried out by all relevant departments has helped limit casualties as much as possible, Yang said.

Yang, also a member of the International Disaster Reduction Committee, urged government departments to regulate disaster monitoring, reporting and relief work to improve their disaster prevention and control capabilities.

China is among the world's top countries frequently hit by natural disasters.

To help cope with the challenge, the central government adopted the Regulation on Prevention and Treatment of Geological Disasters on March 1, which stipulates the obligation of local officials to effectively fight geological disasters.

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