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. China's natural disasters cost billions, kill thousands: report

An unusually severe typhoon season in China has been the biggest culprit, killing 2,295 people and leaving 564 missing, the report said. Almost six million homes were severely damaged or destroyed.
by Staff Writers
Beijing, Sept 13, 2006
Over 2,850 people have died or gone missing in natural disasters in China this year, which have resulted in 191.8 billion yuan (23.9 billion dollars) in direct economic losses, state press said Wednesday.

"This year China has suffered the most severe natural disasters since 1998," Xinhua news agency quoted Li Liguo, vice-minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, as saying.

So far the state has only allocated 3.1 billion yuan (392 million dollars) in aid to help the over 13.2 million people affected by the disasters, he said.

An unusually severe typhoon season in China has been the biggest culprit, killing 2,295 people and leaving 564 missing, the report said.

Almost six million homes were severely damaged or destroyed.

"The number of people evacuated from disaster-hit areas this year is almost double the figure of the last few years," Li said.

Relief operations continued to face "great difficulties," Li said, as the government struggles to rebuild or repair many homes ahead of winter.

Typhoons Pearl, Saomai and Bilis ravaged southeastern China's Fujian province in recent months.

They also caused widespread flooding and landslides in other provinces in the region, including Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Guangxi, Li said.

The storms wreaked havoc on China's agricultural sector, resulting in the loss of around 40.5 billion kilograms of grain from January to the end of August, Xinhua said in a separate report, citing vice agriculture minister Fan Xiaojian.

This compares with 30.5 billion kilograms of grain lost to natural disasters over the whole of 2004 and 34.5 billion kilograms lost last year, the report said.

The ministry also said that typhoons and floods have killed 1.27 million head of livestock and 21 million poultry, the report added.

China is struck by severe summer flooding annually. The worst year in recent memory was 1998, when nearly 3,500 people died due to natural disasters.

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