China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Natural disasters leave 2,475 dead in 2005

BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- Natural disasters combined in China left 2,475 people dead, 15.7 million persons displaced, 2.264 million houses collapsed and led to direct economic losses of 204.21 billion yuan (25.53 billion U.S. dollars) in 2005, Li Liguo,vice minister of Civil Affairs, said here on Thursday.

Given the unforgivingness of nature in 2005, the numbers of evacuees and direct economic losses have recorded a new high in recent five years, with the death toll second to that in 2001 and the number of collapsed houses second only to that in 2003 when heavy deluge flooded the Huaihe River, official statistics show.

2005 witnessed yet another year fraught with natural disasters for China, Li said at a press conference.

In the year China was "plagued by flood, typhoon, drought, hailstorm and snowstorm, freeze, landslide, mud and rock flow and earthquake, among other disasters," he said.

Li noted that major tributaries of the Pearl River, Huaihe and Liaohe River Basins, the Minjiang River in Fujian Province, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River were hard hit by inundation.

Extreme climatic events, landslide and mud and rock flow haunted parts of China, leaving a tragic trail of casualties and destruction.

Eight powerful typhoons landing along the eastern and southern coast swept many areas with hefty losses incurred.

Henan and Yunnan provinces have experienced rare and severe droughts ever recorded in recent years.

Of the 13 earthquakes measuring 5 degrees of magnitude that ravaged the Chinese mainland, the one measuring 5.7 degrees on Richter scale left Jiujiang of Jiangxi Province with huge economic losses, Li said.

In response to these disasters, the MCA has collaborated with relevant departments to earmark 8.7 billion yuan (1.09 billion U.S. dollars) as the central budget for disaster rescue and relief initiatives, Li said.

The State Natural Disaster Relief Contingency Plan was put in place, he said, stressing the total of emergency plans executed in 2005 far outnumbered that in 2003 and 2004, which registered 16 and 12 respectively.

"The disaster reduction capacity in China has been tremendously enhanced across the board," he said.

The leadership of State Disaster Reduction Commission committed to disaster reduction and relief efforts has been improved with the strong support of a newly established panel consisting of 18 academicians and renowned experts, he said.

The round-the-clock disaster monitoring mechanism has taken shape, and a meeting system designed to bring competent departments together on a monthly basis has been improving.

Meanwhile, the ground system for the moonlet constellation designed for environment and disaster monitoring approved by the State Council started operation and the community-based Disaster Reduction Outreach Campaign was launched nationwide to enhance the public awareness, he noted.

The Chinese government also intensified its cooperation with the international community for disaster reduction and relief in 2005.

In addition, donation drive has been well organized across the country, Li said.

According to government statistics, the Chinese civil society donated 656 million yuan (81.39 million U.S. dollars) for the affected areas.

"The 'one-to-one' program has turned out to be quite productive," Li said. With this program, 10 provinces and municipalities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang donated 11.6 million yuan (1.43 million US dollars) and other disaster relief supplies to 12 provinces and autonomous regions including Hebei and Inner Mongolia.

Various localities carried out diversified donation drives featuring the theme of "winter clothing warms the heart" in response to the initiative proposed by Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee,he stressed.

Official statistics by Dec. 18 indicated that the members of the CPC pooled over 40.05 million yuan (5 million US dollars) in cash and 520,000 pieces of winter clothing and quilts to help the affected weather through the harsh winter.

These donations at various levels are important to help the needy and the affected in urban and rural areas to tide over their difficulties, Li said.

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