China battered by geological disasters, death toll rises
Landslides, mud and rock flows, cave-ins -- the number of disastrous geological events in China more than quintupled this year, with 15.4 percent more people killed or missing, said the Ministry of Land and Resources on Saturday.
The State Environmental Protection Administration said that 578 people died in 17,751 geological disasters last year, with a further 104 missing and 339 injured.
SEPA said that the series of typhoons that struck China this year had had a big geological impact.
In the tumultuous period from the end of June to the beginning of August, a typhoon hit the Chinese mainland every nine days, causing landslides and mud-rock flows.
Meteorological departments are forecasting more geological mishaps with even heavier losses next year because of abnormal climatic changes and unsafe construction projects.
New mining or construction projects in areas prone to geological turmoil will not be approved unless there are plans for disaster prevention and control, said Li Yuan, deputy head of the ministry.
Official data show 35 million Chinese live under the threat of a geological disaster, with 80 percent of them in rural areas.
The government has launched a campaign to train rural residents in self-organized disaster prevention and relief, as government warnings and aid are often hampered by remoteness and inadequate communications.
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