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Weather watchdog slammed for shifting blame

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

13:57, July 24, 2012

Beijing's weather watchdog has come under criticism for blaming inadequate mobile technology for failing to send out enough warning text messages about the weekend's disastrous rainstorms.

"It would take hours to send a text message to everyone and by then the rain might be over already," said Qu Xiaobo, deputy director of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, on Sunday, reported the Beijing News.

The heaviest rainstorms in 61 years hit the capital over the weekend, killing at least 37.

Zheng Yuanjie, a wellknown author of children's books, wrote on Weibo that if the authorities had sent out warnings promptly, people's lives may have been saved. Many Web users echoed his words.

Qu said that China Unicom used to conduct tests for the meteorological department and it turns out only 400 texts can be sent in one second, which meant it might be pointless to release warnings through text messages, according to the paper.

The three mobile operators, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, reportedly refuted the claim.

Both China Mobile Beijing and China Unicom Beijing have denied that there were any technical obstacles to sending out warning text messages, according to the Sina Weibo microblog of People's Posts and Telecommunications News.

Luo Ling, a spokesperson for China Mobile Beijing, told the Global Times that their company had not issued such a statement.

A spokesperson from China Telecom told the Global Times that they have cooperated with the Beijing government to send out notices, such as safety warnings during the Spring Festival when firecrackers are set off, or other public interest messages.

Ge Changwei, a verified Weibo user who works for China Mobile, wrote on microblogs on Monday that the company sends on average 3 to 4 billion text messages every day. On New Year's Eve of 2011, the three operators in Beijing sent over 1 billion texts.

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