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China Allocates Disaster Relief Funds
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To assist provinces recover from natural disasters the Chinese government on Wednesday allocated 120 million yuan (US$15 million) of funding to assist communities get back to normal.


Zhejiang and Fujian provinces were hit by Typhoon Saomai and Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu have suffered severe droughts. The funding is being allocated by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance.


Typhoon Saomai, the most powerful to hit China in 50 years, slammed into Cangnan County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, at 5:25 PM last Thursday. It was later downgraded to a tropical depression after causing huge economic losses running into millions of dollars.  


The storm took the lives of 319 people by 10 PM on Tuesday when 24 bodies were found in Fuding city of east China's Fujian Province.


In the meantime searing heat and drought have hit other parts of China and the weather pattern is forecast to continue. Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia in north and northwest China have been affected by droughts in the past few days. The Yangtze, China's longest river, has also been affected with water in many sections of the river at their lowest ever levels.


Weather forecasts offer little hope of rainfall in the next few days in the upper and middle reaches of the river including Sichuan and Hubei provinces and Chongqing Municipality. The temperatures in Chongqing hovered around 41 degrees Celsius on Wednesday while in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, temperatures were expected to hit 39 degrees on Wednesday.


The extreme conditions have also affected the drinking water supplies of 7.8 million people in Chongqing and Hunan Province. And more than 7.5 million people in 40 counties in Chongqing are living with drinking water restrictions since a severe drought started in mid May.


On Sunday after a power cut led to equipment failure the water supply was shut off in Huaihua, a city in central China's Hunan Province, leaving about 150,000 people--40 percent of the local population-- without water for three days.


(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2006)

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