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Disaster Prevention Reg Aims to Reduce Losses
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Individuals or organizations found responsible for lapses in forecasting weather-related disasters will face administrative punishment or criminal charges in east China's Jiangsu Province, says a new local regulation.

The province's first Meteorological Disasters Prevention Regulation will be implemented next month.

So said Bian Guanghui, dean of the Jiangsu Provincial Meteorological Administration, on Tuesday.

Those who are found guilty of a dereliction of duty in the forecasting of meteorological disasters that lead to massive casualties or economic losses will now have to face the consequences, according to the rule.

Administrative punishments could mean being fired or demoted.

Any local radio or TV station which refuses to give extra air time for information on meteorological disasters will be fined between 5,000 and 30,000 yuan (US$625-3,750). Top officials at any station involved could also be fired or removed to other positions.

Meanwhile, those who release false meteorological disaster precautions and thereby cause social chaos will also be fined at least 5,000 yuan (US$625).

The regulation also forbids the demolition of meteorological supervising facilities. Those who violate the rule could face criminal charges.

Buildings must be evaluated

The regulation states that meteorological experts must evaluate major construction projects and urban planning before such schemes begin. This is in case they could influence the function of meteorological facilities, perhaps for being too tall and too close to a weather station.

The regulation also designates that weather broadcasting facilities such as electronic boards and radio announcement stations should be established in densely populated places such as ports, railway stations and major roads to inform people in plenty of time of possible weather changes.

According to Bian Guanghui, Jiangsu is one of several regions most vulnerable to disastrous weather changes. Direct economic losses caused by bad weather like typhoons and flooding in the province have totaled 30 billion yuan (US$3.75 billion) in the last three years.

Several other major provinces and municipalities including Shandong, Sichuan and Chongqing have drafted or implemented their own meteorological disaster prevention regulations in recent months.

Like Jiangsu, their rules also warn of administrative punishments or criminal charges if there is misconduct in disaster precautions and prevention.

The regulations come because the country's meteorological administration teams have decided to do more to curb weather-triggered disasters.

According to meteorological experts, lapses in forecasting, such as delaying or giving false information on weather-triggered disasters could cause substantial economic losses and injuries.

Recent statistics from the China Meteorological Administration show such disasters have killed at least 2,705 people already this year, with a direct loss of 170 billion yuan (US$21 billion).

(China Daily August 31, 2006)

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