Dams and Earthquakes

Quakes the main natural disaster killer on mainland

August 6, 2006

Earthquakes have killed more people in China than any other form of natural disaster, accounting for 54 per cent of such deaths since 1949, a Chinese seismological official says.

Shijiazhuang: Earthquakes have killed more people on the Chinese mainland than any other form of natural disaster, according to a Chinese seismological official. Quake fatalities had accounted for 54 percent of natural disaster deaths since 1949, said Huang Jianfa, director of the earthquake emergency relief division of the China Seismological Bureau, on Saturday. Floods and droughts came the next, accounting for another 40 percent of deaths, Huang told the Asian-Pacific Regional Earthquake Exercise workshop in Shijiazhuang, provincial capital of Hebei. China had been afflicted by natural disasters, which affected 200 million people and damaged 40 million hectares of crops each year. Natural disasters cost the country an average 100 billion yuan (12.5 billion U.S. dollars) each year. China also suffered serious losses from typhoons, landslides and rock-and-mud flows, said Huang. “Extreme weather will become more frequent across China because of various factors, including global warming,” said Huang, who insisted China must participate in more international disaster relief operations. Thirty years ago, the industrial city of Tangshan, 200 kilometers east of Beijing in Hebei Province, was struck by one of the deadliest earthquakes of the 20th Century. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, it killed 242,000 people and injured 164,000 others. The Asian-Pacific Regional Earthquake Exercise, which began on Saturday, was attended by 34 rescue teams from around the world, including the United States, Japan and Russia. The workshop under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will close on Monday.

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