The Chinese mainland was plagued by frequent natural disasters in 2006. The magnitude of and the losses caused by the disasters were the most severe in the recent years. These natural disasters caused 252.8 billion yuan in direct economic losses, up 23.8 percent over the previous year. They affected 41.09 million hectares of cropland, up 5.9 percent, of which 5.41 million hectares failed to support any crop, up 17.7 percent. The year witnessed 7,775 forest fires, a decrease of 3,767 over the previous year. There were five major forest fires in 2006, two more than in the previous year. The fires affected 410,000 hectares of forests, 4.5 times more than in 2005. Marine disasters inflicted direct economic losses of 21.8 billion yuan, down 34.3 percent. Ninety-three red tides were discovered during the year, 11 more than in the previous year. The total area affected by red tides was about 19,840 square km, down 26.7 percent. The number of geologic disasters stood at 102,800, resulting in the deaths of 663 people and direct economic losses of 4.42 billion yuan. The country recorded 14 earthquakes measured at Richter 5 and above on its mainland, 10 of which caused disasters. Some 667,000 people and an area of 7,168 square km were affected in the earthquakes, down 68 percent and 52.3 percent respectively. Economic losses caused by the earthquakes amounted to about 800 million yuan, a decline of 69.6 percent.
A variety of natural disasters hit China in 2006. In this picture, local residents struggle with typhoon Prapiroon when the tropical storm lashes Hong Kong on August 3, 2006.
Disasters left 3,186 people dead and over 13 million people displaced and relocated in 2006. The State Disaster Reduction Commission and the Ministry of Civil Affairs carried out 40 emergency disaster relief operations totaling 132 days in 17 provinces. They dispatched 60 disaster relief teams and sent over 40,000 tents to disaster-hit areas. The Central Government allocated a total of 11.198 billion yuan as part of its efforts to help those affected by natural disasters with reconstruction. To date, the damaged houses have mostly been rebuilt, and the victims have been well provided for.
While giving top priority to disaster relief, the Ministry of Civil Affairs launched a number of donation drives. In 2006, such drives resulted in 3.589 billion yuan in cash, 70.56 million pieces of clothing and quilts and 469 million yuan worth of other disaster supplies from all walks of life. All the donations were directly shipped to the seriously affected counties in 11 provinces and autonomous regions and handed over to the families in need.