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Cities Cope with Typhoon Matsa's Aftermath

Over the three days that tropical storm Matsa swept through east China's Shandong Province, direct economic losses totaled about 2.76 billion yuan (US$340 million), including over US$271 million in agricultural losses, according to Shandong Provincial Civil Administration statistics released on Tuesday.

Some 3.8 million people have been affected but no deaths were reported.

Matsa ruined nearly 340,000 hectares of farmland and damaged some 200,000 buildings, partially snarling transportation systems.

Also on Tuesday, the Shanghai government rushed emergency supplies of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides to farmers in Shanghai's suburbs after many crops were severely damaged by the typhoon over the weekend.

The emergency measure, which was decided at a hastily called meeting late on Monday, will provide an expected 120,000 tons of jimaocai, a green-leaf vegetable that grows rapidly, starting August 27, according to the Shanghai Agricultural Commission.

"Shanghai's greens supply has been seriously affected by typhoon Matsa," Zhang Sirong, director of the commission's vegetable office, said. Zhang said the city gets most of its vegetables from the suburbs and neighboring provinces, both of which were hit hard by Matsa -- the biggest storm to hit Shanghai in eight years.

The city consumes 10,000 tons of vegetables a day, 3,000 tons of which are green-leaf veggies. The current supply of green-leaf vegetables is less than 1,000 tons a day, Zhang said.

Matsa flooded 26,667 hectares of farmland in the municipality over the weekend, causing the most serious devastation in more than 30 years. The government is still calculating the financial losses from the storm.

Farmers were busy yesterday repairing storage bins, dredging drainage ditches and plowing rain-soaked soil.

At a news briefing yesterday, Vice Mayor Hu Yanzhao asked all suburban district chiefs to take every measure necessary to ensure a steady vegetable supply.

"We must act quickly to plug the supply shortfall," Hu said. "Meanwhile, we should fully guarantee farmers' incomes."

The government has allocated 70 million yuan (US$8.64 million) to help farmers resume production. Insurance companies also earmarked 35 million yuan to cover payouts under potential claims.

"The two hectares on which others and I make our living were totally inundated, and I estimated a loss of more than 100,000 yuan," Zhuang Shengde, a farmer who was mending storage bins on his plot in Zhuding Village, Songjiang District, said yesterday.

(Xinhua News Agency August 10, 2005)

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