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Weather watchdog slammed for shifting blame (2)

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

14:00, July 24, 2012

"It would take one or two hours at the most to send out just 20 million texts," he wrote.

The weather authorities, however, insist that they had sent text messages, apart from releasing warnings through other channels promptly, including television, radio, websites, microblogs, and public transportation televisions, Ding Deping, chief of the professional weather station of Beijing Meteorological Station, told the Global Times on Monday.

Since 9:45 am on Saturday, the official Weibo account of the meteorological bureau sent at least nine messages warning of the hazardous weather conditions. However, the account has less than 50,000 followers.

Ding said that they have sent altogether about 1 million text messages warning of heavy rainstorms, lightning and thunder over the weekend through all three mobile companies.
Beijing established a hazardous weather warning system back in 2004, which includes releasing information through cell phone texts, according to a Beijing News report on July 24 that year.

Ding admitted that there is still a long way to go for the information to reach everybody, but they are working toward that goal. "It also requires different parties, including the government and the media, to take responsibility," she added.

The ultimate problem, however, is not whether the authorities have sent text messages. Even if everybody received a text, they would still have to face a problematic drainage system that caused flooding in the city, said Zhang Xin, an associate professor at the School of Public Administration, Renmin University.

"The authorities should reflect on the infrastructure and city planning, and we also need to take into account whether the related departments acted properly according to the emergency response plans," he said.

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