China

China says 1,208 dead from floods this year

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Beijing (dpa) - China's death toll from floods this year has reached 1,208, state media reported on Thursday, as areas along the Yellow river continued the alert.

Natural disasters have killed 1,911 people in China this year and caused direct economic losses of 151.4 billion yuan (18.3 billion dollars), the official Xinhua news agency quoted Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Yang Yanyin as saying.

One of the most serious natural disasters this year was the flooding of eastern China's Huaihe river valley in late June and early July, Yang said.

The Huaihe was hit by the worst floods since 1954, the agency quoted him as saying.

But the government's flood control work succeeded in reducing the number of deaths in recent years, he said.

"For example, in 1991, 7,300 people were killed by flooding calamities, while this year 1,208 lives were claimed by similar disasters,'' Yang was quoted as saying.

"(But) flooding this year is considered more serious than that in 1991.''

Natural disasters have forced the evacuation of 6.3 million people this year, caused the collapse of 2.6 million buildings, and ruined more than 50 million hectares of farmland.

The central government has allocated more than 2.8 billion yuan (339 million dollars) for disaster relief work, Yang said.

Xinhua said a flood alert would continue this week along the Yellow river in parts of northern and central China.

Heavy rain has forced thousands more people to evacuate their homes in flood-hit areas along the river in the past week.

Flood control officials in two areas of Shaanxi province said they evacuated some 240,000 people since late August, in the worst flooding for 20 years along the Weihe river, a major tributary of the Yellow.

More than 1,000 people died in summer floods last year, the worst year since some 4,000 died in 1998. dpa bs bg

AP-NY-10-09-03 0924EDT

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 10/09/2003 09:24:20

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