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China Retrieves 41.2b Yuan from Drought, Floods
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China retrieved a total of 41.2 billion yuan (US$5.28 billion) from droughts and floods last year, thanks to efforts to improve anti-drought and floods capabilities, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Sunday.


By enhancing anti-drought capabilities and preparations against floods, China retrieved 56.83 million tons of grain from 2.74 billion hectares of farmland, said Wang Shucheng, deputy head of the headquarters and minister of water resources.


China invested 8.9 billion yuan in anti-drought efforts last year, including putting more motor-pumped wells and pumping stations in operation and more people being mobilized to participate in fight against drought, said Wang.


With the construction of temporary water supply projects and transportation of water from other places to drought-hit areas, 34.19 million people and 27.77 head of domestic animals were able to have access to drinking water during the drought season, Wang said.


Wang said during floods and typhoon season last year, China evacuated 12.54 million people to safe places and recalled more than 100,000 ships back from the seas, shunning loss of lives and property.


China experienced frequent occurrence of extreme weather last year.


Typhoons, floods and droughts claimed 2,704 lives and inflicted economic losses of 212 billion yuan to China last year, which were second only to those inflicted in 1998 when an extremely severe flood ravaged the country, according to China Meteorological Administration.


Last year, seven typhoons and seven strong tropical storms have hit the Chinese mainland, including Typhoon Saomai, the strongest typhoon to hit China since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, that claimed at least 460 lives.


The administration said both the intensity of the disaster weather and the damages caused were "rare" in the country's history.


Last spring saw 18 sandstorms in northern China, a record high since 2000 while in summer, the worst drought in a century ravaged Chongqing Municipality of southwestern China, leaving more than 17 million people with drinking water shortages. Sichuan Province was also stricken by its most severe drought since 1951.


Northern China experienced its worst acid rain in 14 years last summer. In August, 80 percent of the rainy days in Beijing were "acid rain days".


Since last December, most parts of central and eastern China have been cloaked in thick fog which has triggered frequent road accidents and postponed flights.


Climate Centre Director Dong Wenjie predicted that the weather situation for 2007 could be worse than the average. Frequent adverse weather including typhoons, floods, storms, drought, heat wave and acid rains are possible, he said.


(Xinhua News Agency January 29, 2007)

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