On quake anniversary, China touts disaster relief measures

May 11th, 2009 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, May 11 (Xinhua) A year after more than 87,000 people were killed or went missing in an earthquake that ravaged China’s Sichuan province, Beijing Monday unveiled a white paper highlighting the disaster relief efforts it has undertaken, as well as the way it plans to manage future disasters.
More than 374,000 people were injured and millions left homeless following the magnitude-8.0 devastating quake that struck southwestern Sichuan province May 12, last year.

The white paper, released by China’s State Council, shed light on how the officials in cooperation with the public carried out the relief and rescue measures in harsh conditions after the earthquake and during other disasters that hit the country in 2008.

Given that many kinds of wide-ranging disasters frequently hit China and cause huge losses, China’s main tasks were to strengthen its ability to manage potential risks of natural disasters, to monitor and forecast natural disasters, to prevent them and conduct rescue and relief, the paper said.

“The work of preventing and responding to natural disasters has become more serious and complicated,” the paper said.

Zou Ming, director of the disaster relief department under the civil affairs ministry, said that the country learned a lot from the disasters that strengthened its capability to deal with such eventualities.

“Based on the lessons we learned and problems found in rescue and relief work for winter storms in south China in early 2008 and the May 12 earthquake, we have made efforts to improve the country’s disaster management system,” Zou told a press conference here Monday.

The country had amended its state-level contingency plan for natural disaster relief and ordered local governments, rural and urban communities to make corresponding plans, he said.

The country will adopt a new system to calculate damages and loss in disasters from June 1 and train local officials in charge of collecting such data, he said.

Zou also said that pilot programmes had been held in 13 provinces so far this year and training would be offered to 30,000-50,000 officials by the end of this year.

China also planned to increase the number of state-level storage facilities for relief materials from 10 to 24, the official added.

The country attaches great importance to institutionalising disaster control work, such as issuing relevant laws and regulations, and it has developed a disaster control and response system in line with China’s realities, the report said.

The system included leadership from the State Council and central government departments as well as disaster control departments at different levels, while local governments bore the main responsibilities, the document said.

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