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Meteorologists urged to improve forecasting
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-06-08 00:23

The country's top weather official yesterday called on China's 50,000 meteorologists to improve forecasting to help mitigate the damage caused by floods.

"From now on, all weathermen and their forecasting outfits must be in place to provide accurate weather forecasts for decision-makers and the public to lessen the damage caused by summer floods," Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said yesterday at a televised conference.

"All of CMA's modern meteorological facilities and resources must be put into full operation in the coming days -- including satellites, digital radar systems, super computers and related data processing and transmitting networks," he said.

He pledged radar would be used to detect rainstorms and their consequent land and mud slides so people in danger are warned three hours before they occur.

Early warnings would also be issued through the media, text messages and other means such as electronic billboards in downtown areas and freeways, he said.

Qin was confident the steps would help people prepare for and avoid danger and give decision-makers the heads up about impending disasters so they could ready countermeasures.

"Through cross-regional weather consultation, we would closely watch upcoming intermittent rainy weather along the middle and lower reaches of the flood-prone Yangtze River and the potential flash floods it may cause," said Jiao Meiyan, head of the National Meteorological Observatory.

All of China's major rivers including the Yangtze in the south and Yellow River in the north have been largely placid despite a week of flooding coming from record downpours which dumped 496 millimetres of rain on parts of South China.

By yesterday, reports of damage caused by flash floods across South China were still pouring in, with an estimated 135 dead across eight localities.

More than 15.1 million people have been affected by the floods and landslides in Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Guangdong, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces as well as Chongqing Municipality and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Over the past week, more than 389,000 locals have been evacuated from flood-battered areas in the eight worst hit regions where financial losses have so far amounted to 4 billion yuan (US$481 million), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

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