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. China's natural disaster death toll at six-year high

File photo: A man walks through the rubble of his home after Tropical Storm Bilis destroyed southern China's Guangdong province, 16 July 2006. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 14, 2006
The death toll from natural disasters in China this year is the highest in at least six years, the government said Monday, as the number of confirmed fatalities climbed past 1,900. A total of 1,699 Chinese died in natural disasters from January 1 to August 9 this year, the largest number since at least 2000, the civil affairs ministry said in a statement on its website.

The ministry said another 415 people had been reported missing during the period.

Typhoons, eight of which have struck since May, were the main killer, accounting for 1,045 dead or missing, followed by floods and landslides with 758, the ministry said.

The previous highest death toll for the same period was 1,556 in 2003, the government said. Last year the death toll over that time was 1,328, with 1,376 lives lost during that particular period in 2000.

The data, which confirms a report on this year's death toll published by the nation's Red Cross Society last week, did not provide figures for years before 2000.

The data from the civil affairs ministry also did not take into account the lives lost from Typhoon Saomai, which struck on Thursday last week and killed at least 255 people, according to the latest official figures on Monday.

This would bring the official death toll to well over 1,900.

Government officials have said that this year's typhoon season started about a month earlier than usual, with the storms fiercer and more frequent than usual partly due to the impact of global warming.

"Against the backdrop of global warming, more and more strong and unusual climatic and atmospheric events are taking place," the head of the China Meteorological Administration, Qin Dahe, said recently.

"The strength of typhoons is increasing, the destructiveness of typhoons that have made landfall is greater."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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