China: Floods - Information Bulletin n° 1

Situation Report
Originally published
The Disaster
The floodwaters that plague China every year have begun to spread across its southern and eastern regions as the monsoon made its dramatic seasonal debut in Hong Kong on 1 July. At least 12 provinces are now experiencing flooding although waters have not reached disaster proportions in all as of yet. Most severely affected are those in the Pearl River catchment area, including its tributaries the Xijiang and Beijiang Rivers. The affected provinces include Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Zhejing, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, and Jiangxi.
More than 70 people have already died in the flooding. Over 14 million people are currently affected by the floods through death, injury, destruction to homes, inundation of farmland, closure of factories and damage to infrastructure. Approximately 1,000 people had to be evacuated from the Beijing-Kowloon passenger train when a landslide blocked its passage. As floodwaters rose, rail travel between Shanghai and Fujian Province was suspended due to water-covered tracks and weakened trestles.

Official figures are not yet available, but the Red Cross Society of China has obtained preliminary figures from three of the affected provinces.

3.2 million people affected
41 dead, thousands injured
11,170 rooms destroyed, 43,250 damaged
50 boxes of medicine and 300 quilts distributed from DP Centre
direct economic loss 1.83 billion Yuan (CHF 320 m)

5.92 million people affected in 37 counties
29 dead, 8,125 injured
12,500 rooms destroyed, 98,700 damaged
extensive damage to food crops
direct economic loss 1.2 billion Chinese Yuan (CHF 209 m)

5.14 million people affected
16 dead, thousands injured
production halted in more than 7,000 factories
relief supplies by local and provincial branches: quilts and medicine
requested emergency funds from Headquarters

The Relief Department of the RCSC provided the following data on natural disasters (torrential rain, floods, hailstones, cyclones, earthquakes) in China during the first half of 1997:

The toll of natural disasters in China January to June 1997
affected population 50,670,000
463 counties in 16 provinces
dead 587 people, injured 19,620
living in shelters 520,260
rooms destroyed 274,870, rooms damaged 1,969,071
farmland damaged 3,431,340 hectares
direct economic loss of 17,914,860,000 Yuan (CHF 312 million)

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

The impact of the floods are being monitored at the local, provincial, and national levels. From its headquarters in Beijing, the RCSC staff are keeping the Federation Secretariat informed. Weather forecasters in China predict exceptionally heavy rainfall this year as the monsoon season continues through August and into September. Already several provinces are reporting their worst flooding in nearly 50 years.

The RCSC has released funds to assist the provinces in meeting the needs of its beneficiaries. On 15 July, an assessment team from Headquarters will travel to several sites in the flooded area.

In Guangdong Province the staff of the Disaster Preparedness Centre in Guizhou prepared and delivered 300 quilts and 50 boxes of medicine (value 45,000 Yuan = CHF 7,800)) to flood victims. The Guangxi Provincial Branch sent out medical teams comprising 42 individual medical and paramedical staff. Those in Zhejiang Province have sent medicine, quilts, and other relief materials to the flooded areas. Hong Kong Red Cross contributed 200,000 Yuan (CHF 35,000) to Guangdong Province Red Cross while staff and volunteers in the province raised another 250,000 Yuan (CHF 43,800) to purchase relief goods.
The Asia & Pacific Department continues to monitor weather patterns and reports utilising the Internet. For those interested in following the weather, here are sites suggestions:

GMS-5 infrared image of earth, cloud cover, storms

Tropical storm tracking map

Satellite image

Info Bulletin no. 01/97 2


Needs assessments are underway, however past experience identifies the need for food, medicines, disinfectants, clothing, and quilts.

Ann Leclerc Acting Head Appeals & Reports Service Hiroshi Higashiura Director Asia & Pacific Department Info Bulletin no. 01/973