Two Tibetan children play in front of a tent where they live on Nov 12, 2011. They attend school nearby in Yushu, a county in Qinghai province that was hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on April 14 last year. [Photo: Xinhua]
County-level civil affairs departments should distribute subsidies to the people affected by disasters within 15 days of receiving the money from superior authorities, a senior official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Friday.
Local civil affairs departments are also required to simplify the application procedures for such subsidies, said Luo Pingfei, vice-minister of civil affairs, during a meeting about helping disaster victims get through harsh winters.
More than 480 million people in the country suffered from natural disasters in the first three quarters of 2011, according to ministry data. One thousand were killed or are missing. The economic cost of the disasters this year reached 300 billion yuan ($47 billion).
Luo said the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance have allocated 3.6 million yuan to help the disaster-affected regions and will soon allocate more disaster relief money. However, he did not name an exact amount.
Local civil affairs authorities have been ordered to speed up reconstruction work for residents who lost their homes in natural disasters.
So far, more than 9.1 million people made homeless this year by disasters such as floods, earthquakes and landslides are living in camps or temporary shelters, according to the data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. About 853,000 residential buildings collapsed and about 3 million were severely damaged in the country.
The family of Duan Chang-qin had to live in a temporary shelter made of corrugated iron sheets after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit Yingjiang county in Southwest China's Yunnan province in March.
"We had bought a new apartment in the downtown last year with all of our 320,000 yuan in savings, but it became unlivable when the earthquake made huge cracks in the walls," Duan said, adding that the small jewelry shop she ran was also destroyed.
The temporary shelter has tap water and electricity, but Duan's five children have difficulty sleeping during chilly winter nights.
"One night last month, one steel panel on the roof was blown away by the wind. My kids were all awakened by the cold wind," she said.
In Yingjiang, more than 39,000 families had to leave their homes because of damage from the earthquake in March, said Yao Guohua, deputy head of the Department of Civil Affairs of Yunnan province.
By the end of October, only about 66 percent of them had repaired their homes with the help of local government, Yao said.