Beijing (AFP) Nov 18, 2010
China said Thursday more than 81 million of its people would need government relief this winter, after it suffered one of its worst years for natural disasters in two decades.
China has been particularly badly hit by natural disasters this year, experiencing an earthquake that killed nearly 2,700 people, the worst inundations in a decade and a huge mudslide that killed 1,500.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement that the number of Chinese people impacted by natural disasters this year was 25 percent higher than the average for the past 20 years.
It estimated that 81.4 million people in areas battered by natural disasters would need government relief this winter.
The statement did not elaborate on what type of support was required, but the official Xinhua news agency said the ministry referred to food.
"This year is second only to 2008 (when an 8.0-magnitude quake hit the southwestern province of Sichuan, leaving nearly 87,000 dead or missing) in terms of serious natural disasters in the past 20 years," the ministry said.
Xinhua reported that the government had allocated 4.1 billion yuan (617 million dollars) to buy food, clothes, blankets and heating devices for those in disaster-hit areas.
According to the latest official figures, China's natural disaster toll has reached 4,342 dead or missing this year, with direct economic losses amounting to 370 billion yuan.
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