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Flood Relief Gets More State Emergency Funds

The central government Thursday earmarked 5 million yuan (US$604,000) in emergency funds for Southwest China's flood-stricken Sichuan, one of the two worst-hit provinces of this summer's regional floods.

Following the 8 million yuan (US$966,000) allocated to Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Wednesday, "this was the second batch of emergency funds offered to aid thousands of victims with food, clothing and tents," Zhang Xiaoning, an official at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, told China Daily Thursday.

By Thursday, the first batch of aid including food, medicine, water and tents, arrived in Foping, the worst flooded area in Shaanxi this summer.

Armed policemen and army soldiers carried most of the aid as many roads remained broken. Central and local governments are intensifying rescue and relief operations while soldiers continue to rescue and search for missing people.

Relief officials at the Ministry of Civil Affairs made it clear that, "at the moment, the most urgent goods needed by people in flooded areas are food, drinking water, fuel and tents."

Thursday, roads and communications to the flood-stricken areas began to return to normal while preventions against disease were also under way.

However, rescuers now have the grim task of finding the missing residents - many victims are farmers that were planting crops and living in dried-out river and stream beds in the region that had been victimized by several years of drought, said Deng Jian, an official with the State Flood-Control and Drought Prevention Headquarters.

Over the past week, regional floods have plagued more than 30 million people in Shaanxi, Sichuan, Chongqing Municipality and Guizhou Province in Southwest China and Hubei Province in Central China.

The death toll in these regions reached 206 Thursday, with hundreds still missing and thousands of locals left homeless.

The floods, caused by torrential rain and consequent landslides have swept over 98 counties in Shaanxi and 52 areas in Sichuan.

Relief work is continuing in Shaanxi's flood-stricken areas and some infrastructure destroyed by the flood have been put back into operation, according to reports from Xi'an.

At present, 10 of 13 national and provincial highways have been cut off by the flood caused by heavy rain that occurred from June 8 to 10.

"Repairs on the railway bridge are going fast," said Pan Liansheng, Shaanxi's deputy governor.

The bridge is in the east suburban area of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province on the Lanzhou-Lianyungang Railway, one of China's most important railways that link coastal areas and the western region.

Some trains will not operate from Xi'an railway station due to further repairs being carried out.

The deputy governor said he hoped that "tourists traveling to Xi'an should change their timetable."

He noted: "The situation will greatly affect the tourist industry in the province during the summer."

In Foping, the worst flood-stricken mountainous county in southern Shaanxi, where all the infrastructure were destroyed by the flood and communication, transportation, water and power supplies were cut off, local residents received aid on Wednesday.

(China Daily June 14, 2002)

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