Natural disasters has claimed 1,911 lives this year and caused direct losses of 151.4 billion yuan (US$18.2 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs revealed Wednesday.
Yang Yanyin, Chinese vice-minister of civil affairs, said the central government had reinforced disaster relief efforts as the nation had suffered more than the usual number of natural disasters this year.
China was jolted by a total of 29 earthquakes above five on Richter Scale this year in addition to severe insect pest problems in the north and flooding in the south. Approximately 2.62 million residential buildings tumbled and damages or cracks were brought to 6.8 million. Over 50.7 million hectares of crops were seriously affected by various natural adversities. About 6.31 million people were displaced from their homes.
The central and local governments had made strenuous, substantial efforts in the disaster alleviation campaign. Since the beginning of this year, Yang said, the central government had allocated 2.83 billion yuan (some US$340 million) in special funding as well as 140,000 tents to disaster-affected areas.
In a five-year period from early 1998 to May 2002, the central and local governments poured 20.7 billion yuan (some US$2.5 billion) into natural disaster relief funds, covering around 200 million people.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs released the information to mark the 14th International Day for Disaster Reduction.
(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2003)