Compulsory evacuation rules necessary

Updated: 2013-08-27 21:02


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Government should stipulate officials' responsibilities in emergency warning and disaster relief, says an article in China Youth Daily. Excerpts below:

Eighty-eight people in Nankouqian village, Fushun, Liaoning province, are dead or missing after the Aug 16 flood, while nearby Beikouqian village experienced no deaths from the flooding.

The Liaoning meteorological observatory forecast a rainstorm warning at 7 am that day, and the Liaoning flood control headquarters released its emergency response and required that related areas be ready to evacuate the local population. Although the town government asked village officials to inform and help evacuate villagers in the morning, villagers in Nankouqian said no village official came to inform them to evacuate. In contrast, officials of Beikouqian village informed every household in the afternoon and even compulsorily evacuated some villagers who were unwilling to leave their homes, which avoided any deaths in their village.

Currently China has several laws and regulations to cope with natural disasters, but none stipulate whether the government is obliged to compulsorily evacuate citizens during an emergency. Moreover, there is also no accountability regulation for local officials who fail to inform local citizens about the emergency or help them evacuate, finally leading to causalities. We should draw lessons from the Nankouqian village tragedy, and central government should consider improving disaster relief laws and regulations, especially in stipulating officials' responsibilities.