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Vice-Premier Calls for Strengthened Flood Prevention
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Chinese Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu called for better flood prevention to minimize casualties and economic losses, as more rains pelted China.

China's flood prevention and relief is being put to the test, said Hui, who is also director of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. He was speaking at a meeting to design a national plan to prevent floods and disasters held here Wednesday.

Heavy rains have caused flash floods, landslides, casualties and injuries recently in the country.

"We should do whatever we can to provide a safe environment for the people in mountainous regions," he said.

Hui, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, said China is a mountainous country and serious floods can occur quite often during the rainy season, and China urgently needs national plan to prevent disasters.

The plan aims to set up a disaster prevention system in five years. The system will combine basic non-engineering projects including surveillance, communication, early warning as well as engineering projects.

Thirty-one people are still missing Wednesday after flash floods hit an ethnic minority prefecture in southwest China's Guizhou Province that claimed 19 lives on Tuesday.

Sudden downpours hit the province Monday and continued for four hours causing several flash floods in the mountainous region.

Southern China has been hit by frequent rainstorms and floods so far this month. Guangdong Province reports that landslides caused by rainstorms have killed six people by Tuesday, while the Wuzhou City in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region reported 14 deaths.

Vice-Premier Hui stressed that China should integrate its irrigation, meteorological and land resources and strengthen communication and resource sharing in developing the plan.

The current priority is to evacuate victims in flood-hit areas to reduce casualties and set up precipitation monitoring and early warning systems in these areas.

Disaster prevention is a long-term and arduous task that needs coordinated work of local governments and related national departments, Hui said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2006)

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