China is now the third hardest-hit country in the world in terms of economic losses sustained from natural disasters, the civil affairs minister said in Beijing yesterday, the UN International Day for Disaster Reduction.
"In the past decade, China has gone up to third ranking, after Japan and the US, in terms of disaster-induced losses," said Li Xueju, adding that economic losses caused by disasters in the country exceeded two trillion yuan (US$247 billion).
This year in China, 1,796 lives have also been lost and 15.16 million people displaced due to natural disasters, while economic losses have reached 183.9 billion yuan (US$23 billion), according to Li.
The past 12 months have seen the massive Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami as well as drought and locust damage in Africa, devastation from hurricanes and cyclones in the US, the Caribbean and Pacific as well as the most recent earthquakes in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
The ministry said it has launched a series of activities ranging from emergency drills to disaster reduction education programs in an effort to enhance awareness.
The theme of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction was "Invest to prevent disaster" and it aimed to launch a global debate on how microfinance could reduce the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities.
(Xinhua News Agency October 13, 2005)