China Ranks Third Hardest Hit by Disasters

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Over 70 percent of China's big cities, more than half of its population of 1.3 billion, and 75 percent of its key industrial and agricultural areas are located in regions prone to weather-related and geological disasters, according to Xinhua News Agency. As the pace of industrial development picks up in China, the concentration of economic activities in disaster-affected areas is rising as well, exacerbating the social and environmental impacts of these events.

After Japan and the United States, China was the country third-hardest hit by disasters over the past decade, said Chinese Civil Affairs Minister Li Xueju at the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction Conference in Beijing on October 12. The nation has been besieged by a variety of disasters in just the past 10 months, including floods, typhoons, droughts, windstorms, blizzards, landslides, and earthquakes.

Eight hurricanes have hit China's southeast and southern coastal areas so far this year, reflecting an increase in the annual number, Li said. As of mid-October, disasters had taken 1,796 lives and left 461 people missing in 2005 alone. More than 15 million people have been displaced and 1.6 million houses destroyed this year, resulting in direct economic losses of RMB 183.87 billion (approx. US $22 billion).