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Risk map shows parts of nation in most danger

Updated: 2011-05-13 07:05

By Wang Qian (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Eastern China is the most vulnerable part of the country - both economically and geologically - to the threat of natural disasters, according to a new national risk map.

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"Because most eastern areas, especially the coastal regions, are fast-developing areas with large populations, the damage from a natural disaster would be heavy," said Shi Peijun, deputy director of the National Committee of Disaster Relief and the person who was in charge of drawing up the map.

The rendering shows that the eastern parts of the country have natural disasters more frequently and suffer from heavier economic losses than the central and western areas of China.

"The risk map will help decision-makers draw up solid plans for disaster relief and prevention," Shi told China Daily on Wednesday.

Risk map shows parts of nation in most danger

The Yangtze River's downstream areas and its delta, the area around the Huaihe River, the North China Plain and the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan region are among the most at-risk areas. Also included on the list of high-risk areas are the Liaohe River, Sichuan Basin, the Fen and Wei river valleys and areas near Dongting and Boyang lakes.

The map was released on Tuesday by the State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology at the Beijing Normal University.

Around 13 types of natural disaster were considered in the drawing of the map, including snowstorms, floods, drought and forest fire.

China has suffered several major natural disasters since 2008.

An 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Wenchuan, Sichuan province, in May 2008, claiming about 80,000 lives.

In April 2010, a 7.1-magnitude tremor hit Yushu, Qinghai province, and, in August, devastating mudslides killed about 2,000 people in Zhouqu, Gansu province.

"The risk of natural disasters is rising in China and we may be entering a period with frequent extreme weather events and geological disasters," Shi said, adding that it is time for China to prepare for such potential dangers.

He said work should be carried out urgently to mitigate the risks and called on authorities in eastern areas to prepare for the threat of an earthquake.

Senior officials from related departments agreed and said measures will be taken.

Chen Zhenlin, director of the China Meteorological Administration's emergency response, disaster mitigation and public services department, said at a press conference on Tuesday that economic losses for fast-developing areas from meteorological disasters are increasing dramatically, posing a challenge for administrations.

Fan Yida, chief engineer with the National Disaster Reduction Center of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said at a forum on Tuesday that disaster prevention and mitigation will be an important issue during the period of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and the government wants to keep the economic losses from such events to less than 1.5 percent of annual GDP.

Wang Min, vice-minister of land and resources, also emphasized the importance of not building projects in potentially dangerous areas.

A geological disaster emergency management office will be set up to tackle any geological disasters.

May 12, the date of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, was chosen in 2009 to be China's Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day.

In April, natural disasters claimed 34 lives and affected more than 20 million people, with economic losses reaching more than 5 billion yuan ($769 million) and nearly 2 million hectares of farmland was damaged, according to the latest statistics from the National Disaster Relief Office.


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