The extent of the death toll and chaos in Pakistan caused by monsoon flooding throws a favorable light on the efforts of China’s authorities to deal with months of similar devastating weather across the length and breadth of the country. The relief effort under difficult conditions has been massive with 287,000 military personnel put to rescue work (below) along with vast cadres of civilians. While not all the lessons of the disastrous floods of 1998 have been learned, sufficient have been to have averted what could have been a bigger catastrophe.
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The scale of what China is having to deal with is indicated by a statement from the Red Cross Society of China that it is struggling to mobilize adequate resources in the wake of the appeals it carried out to respond to the Qinghai earthquake and serious drought in central parts of China earlier in the year. Latest official figures, as of July 29, put the death toll from flooding so far this year at 968 dead and 507 missing. The floods have affected 134 million people in 28 provinces. Direct economic losses are now put at 176.5 billion yuan ($26 billion). With rice harvests fast approaching in the southwest and central parts of the country, thousands of small-scale farmers face a hungry future.
The latest region to have been hit is Jilin in the northeast where more than 100 are dead or missing. Flash floods cut roads, triggered landslides and swelled rivers and reservoirs to critical levels. And still the rains continue.
Worst Affected Provinces
No. of People Affected (% of total provincial population)
Hubei: 10 million (17%)
Shaanxi: 3.65 million (10%)
Jiangxi: 5 million (12%)
Sichuan: 17.2 million (21%)
Source: Red Cross of China
The International Red Cross has published a map of the provinces most affected by the flooding caused by the rains of the past few weeks. Just about every one in the south and east. The thumbnail below clicks through to a .pdf version of the full sized map.
Official reports count at least 135 people dead and 41 missing in 11 provinces and municipalities mostly along the rain-swollen Yangtze River. Some 35.5 million people have been affected by the adverse weather, with more than 1.2 million people relocated and 113,000 homes destroyed since the beginning of July. At least 281,3oo hectares (700,000 acres) of farmland lies devastated.
Since the beginning of the year, floods and landslides caused a total of 594 deaths in 26 provinces, with 212 people still missing, according to official figures. Direct economic losses are put at 120.2 billion yuan ($17.7 billion).
This week marks the six months anniversary, if that is the right word, of the May 12 Sichuan earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people. Fifteen million survivors in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi were displaced. The Red Cross reminds us that many of them remain in temporary reed matting shelters which will be inadequate with the onset of winter, especially in the mountains. The Red Cross says that while “the rapid response of the government in rebuilding homes is clearly visible,”…”full recovery is expected to take a further two and a half years, including reconstruction of tens of thousands of homes, as well as schools and health clinics.” It says will make emergency cash grants to the most vulnerable, particularly the elderly to help get them through the winter, and continue to distribute supplies such as quilts, medicine and food.
Meanwhile, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake was reported today to have struck Qinghai province in the north west 160 kilometers north of Goimud, the industrial city that is the railhead for Tibet. Some homes were destroyed, but no reports of casualties so far, according to official reports. The U.S. Geological Survey has maps.
Reliefweb has a map of the 6.4. magnitude quake that struck north west of Lhasa on October 6, killing 30 people. Snapshot below:
Oct. 6 2008 Damxung County Earthquake