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Early warnings must reach every resident

Updated: Jul 27,2016 7:17 AM     China Daily

Two central government ministries have called for early warnings in natural disasters to make sure that every resident is given notice.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Water Resources have required more timely warnings and reports of flood situations as the death toll from natural disasters has surpassed 1,000 this year.

Chen Lei, minister of water resources and deputy commander of the national flood control authorities, said officials are required to ensure that “no resident is left behind”, whether in forecasting disasters, issuing alerts or conducting evacuations.

Chen said the time needed for evacuation must be considered in advance, especially before initiating any floodwaters discharge or leading floodwaters into holding areas, according to a statement on the ministry’s website on July 25.

Relocation plans should be made for special groups such as the disabled, the elderly and children, he said.

Figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed that as of July 26, 1,074 people had died this year in disasters across China, and 270 were missing. A total of 137 million people were affected, with economic losses topping 298 billion yuan ($44.7 billion). About 400,000 houses were destroyed and 6.24 million residents relocated.

More than 75 percent of the losses occurred since June, when 837 people died and 242 were missing as most parts of China entered the rainy season, said Yang Xiaodong, deputy director of the office of the China National Commission for Disaster Reduction.

The number of dead and missing since June is the highest in five years for that period, Yang told a media briefing on July 26.

He also noted the latest flood in northern Hebei, which killed at least 130 and left 110 others missing. Many survivors said they were not informed of the impending floods. They also said officials had failed to organize evacuation. At least five local officials have been suspended for dereliction of duty.

Meanwhile, a central government agency issued a letter on July 22 to parents of left-behind children, urging them to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their children, for whom drowning is a major threat.