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Relief Fund Helps Flood Victims

As torrential rains finally ease in southwest China's Sichuan Province, a relief fund of 280 million yuan (US$33.8 million) has been allocated to help flood victims.

Hit by downpours twice this month, eastern Sichuan has reported economic losses totaling 7.6 billion yuan (US$918.3 million) so far, according to the Sichuan provincial disaster relief office. The office expects the final figure to be larger.

Four cities in eastern Sichuan -- Dazhou, Nanchong, Guang'an and Bazhong -- took the brunt. All of them were already considered poverty-stricken areas.

"We have poured 180,000 yuan (US$21,800) into four seriously flooded villages to help the farmers return to normal life," said Wang Linxian, an official of Tongjiang, a county governed by Bazhong.

Three people in the county died as a result of the heavy rain that fell from September 3 through 6, and six more went missing in a second storm on September 18 and 19. The storms caused extensive flooding and numerous mountain torrents and landslides.

Most of the work in the villages involves organizing residents to resume production and farm work.

"Each household is encouraged to resume raising poultry and livestock, or growing rice and vegetables," he said.

Wang said that the money they have available so far can generally provide only basic living necessities. They still lack the huge amount of money that will be needed to restore local agriculture and industry.

"It may take two or three years for the homeless to live as good a life as before," he said.

Farmers in Tongjiang County earned an average income of 1,300 yuan (US$157) last year. The county is currently organizing various forms of donations among local people in a self-help program.

The provincial government reports that the state has allocated 73 million yuan (U$8.8 million) to support local relief efforts

More subsidies are expected to come from the central government, and donations from all parts of the country will continue to arrive in the next weeks.

Severe weather and flooding this year have resulted in substantial losses of life and property in Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

(China Daily September 22, 2004)

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