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Sichuan and Yunnan to receive disaster relief

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-25 09:22
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Two ministries will allocate 40 million yuan ($5.5 million) from natural disaster relief funds to support the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management said in a circular issued on Sunday that they will allocate 20 million yuan to Sichuan for forest fire relief, while 20 million yuan will be allocated to Yunnan to tackle drought disasters.

The funds will be primarily used to address water shortages for urban and rural residents, and purchase or lease emergency equipment for water supply and purification.

Local authorities will use the funds to organize personnel to ensure water supply for residents, and provide assistance to those facing temporary living difficulties due to disasters.

The Ministry of Finance urged the finance departments of both provinces to expedite the disbursement of the funds to disaster areas and effectively strengthen fund management, the circular said.

In mid-March, a forest fire broke out in Yajiang county, Sichuan, while residents in drought-affected parts of Yunnan have experienced a shortage of water in recent days.

Major sections of the forest fire in Yajiang, which was caused by the use of fire at a construction site, have been extinguished.

The National Forestry and Grassland Administration and other departments issued a notice last week announcing the launch of a special action to effectively identify and rectify the hidden dangers of forest and grassland fires.

The action, which started on March 18 and will last until Nov 30, aims to eliminate major hazards of forest and grassland fires and investigate the illegal use of fire, the administration said.

Efforts should be made to regularly organize rectification of forest and grassland fire hazards, and inspect fire hazards in forest and pasture areas related to power transmission facilities, the notice said.

It emphasized the need to crack down on the unauthorized use of fire and failures to follow operational procedures for planned burning and fire drills in forests.

Local authorities have been urged to trace the origins of fires and rectify violations that endanger fire prevention and energy supply.

Strict measures will be taken to investigate major forest and grassland fires that have occurred since 2022, and crack down on arson and accidental fires, it said.

Those responsible for incidents in which planned burning and fire drills lead to significant failures in vital power facilities will be punished, it added.

By Tuesday, China had experienced 52 forest fires nationwide this year, according to the latest data provided by the Office of the National Forest and Grassland Fire Prevention and Control Command.

Spring is a peak period for forest fires, with data released by the office showing the number of fires in March and April accounted for 44.8 percent of the 328 that occurred nationwide last year.

Hu Xiao, chief meteorological analyst at Weather China, said rising temperatures and dry and windy weather in spring can trigger forest fires.

Forest fires are particularly frequent in southwestern parts of China with subtropical plateau monsoon climates, such as Sichuan and Yunnan.

During March and April, minimal rainfall in these areas leads to extremely dry air, and the warming weather and vegetation growth pose a risk of wildfires, especially on windy days, Hu said, adding that it is also more challenging for rescue equipment and personnel to reach fires in mountainous areas.

Firefighting teams have to hike uphill with equipment to extinguish fires, while the unpredictable wind speed and direction also increase the difficulty of rescue operations, he added.

From Wednesday to Thursday, strong winds are forecast in northern parts of North China, increasing the risk of forest fires.

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