The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday that 1,279 people had died and 239 were missing as a result of natural disasters in the first seven months of this year.
In July alone, 712 people died and 163 went missing, the ministry said in a press release.
This year, the country has experienced abnormal weather conditions causing floods, landslides and drought in a number of provinces, the ministry said, adding that the situation was far worse than last year and the average level.
Disasters of various kinds have affected about 280 million people and made 6.15 million homeless, causing economic losses of 110 billion yuan (US$14.49 billion), the statement said.
Last month, heavy rain hit several provinces in southwest and central China causing floods and landslides while the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and northeast China suffered serious drought.
But the damage was lower than last year, possibly due to the improvement of facilities and capabilities in dealing with the emergencies, said the ministry.
(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2007)