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Guangdong battens down the hatches
Latest Updated by 2007-04-24 11:37:44
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South China's Guangdong Province is working to minimize the threat posed by geological disasters by relocating residents and increasing public preparedness for such incidents.

Provincial authorities are also improving geological supervision of vulnerable areas. "The province is stepping up geological monitoring work in over 600 vulnerable areas, each of which has about 100 residents who would be threatened by a potential disaster, so we can either provide for an adequate emergency response or relocate the residents altogether," said Zhu Guifeng, an official with the provincial land and resources department.

He said residents in over 80 percent of the vulnerable areas would be moved this year. The province has budgeted over 3 billion yuan ($388 million) for the purpose.

"Geological disasters are so severe in the province that they can never be treated lightly," he said. He added that such disasters had caused about 500 casualties from 2002 to last year and resulted in direct economic losses of 1.61 billion yuan ($207 million).

Official statistics indicate that such disasters threaten a total population of 233,000 people in Guangdong and could cause economic losses of about 2 billion yuan ($256 million).

Another 21,070 areas throughout the province have the potential to be hit by a geological disaster, affecting a total population of more than 250,000.

Zhu said the province had organized training programs for grassroots officials, the public and primary and secondary school students in more than 1,000 villages and at 60 schools in 22 cities and counties. The goal was to increase awareness of geological disasters and to teach people how to be able to spot the signs of an impending disaster.

Guangdong will also rely more on technology to monitor geological conditions and allow for the establishment of a disaster-warning system.

The province predicted 329 geological disasters last year, allowing for the evacuation of 5,000 people and reducing economic losses by about 100 million yuan ($12.8 million).

Peng Shaomei, a geologist at the Guangdong geological reconnaissance bureau, said 78 percent of the geological disasters in the province were caused by human activity. Landslides, mud-rock flows, cave-ins, surface subsidence and chasms were the most common such disasters.

Editor: Yan

By: Zhan Lisheng Source: China Daily Website
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