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Tuesday, November 06, 2001, updated at 13:58(GMT+8)

China Provides Disaster Relief to Hurricane-hit Cuba

Hurricane Michelle Pounds Cuba
Li Peng, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), announced Monday that the Chinese Government will provide disaster relief to Cuba to help the country in its recovery from the most devastating hurricane that has struck the island in 50 years.

At a reception hosted by his Cuban counterpart Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, Li expressed his confidence over an early recovery from the disaster with the leadership of Cuban President Fidel Castro and the Communist Party of Cuba.

The relief assistance is worth 5 million Yuan (about US$600,000), 120,000 dollars of which will be in ready money and the rest in material. "The relief assistance represents Chinese people's sympathy with the Cuban people", Li said.

The powerful Hurricane Michelle, with winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour, caused heavy damage in many parts of the country with torrential rain and wild waves. The hurricane is expected to move out of the country in two or three days.

Havana appeared an empty city Monday as the authorities had warned citizens to stay indoors. Electricity has been cut in many places in Havana, and telephone and other communication lines have been seriously affected.

Alarcon expressed gratitude for China's aid, hailing the traditional and close friendship between the two peoples.

Li expressed deep concern over the suffering the hurricane has brought to the Cuban people, and said he believed that under the strong leadership of the Party and the Government headed by President Castro, the Cuban people will ride out the disaster, overcome all the difficulties and keep damage at a minimum.

Castro thanked China for her assistance saying that the support from the Chinese Government and the people is a huge inspiration for the Cuban people and that they are confident they will conquer all difficulties with the help of disaster relief.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Monday also expressed sympathy to Cuba in a message to Fidel Castro.

"On behalf of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese government and the Chinese people, as well as in my own name, I express deepest sympathy to you and through you to the Cuban people," Jiang said.

Jiang said he believes that the heroic Cuban people will overcome the natural disaster and restore the normal life of people and production under the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban government.

Hurricane Michelle Claims Five in Cuba

At least five people died when hurricane Michelle roared through the western part of Cuba, the Civil Defense Office said Monday.

The office reported that one person drowned, while four others died due to buildings collapsing in the cities of Havana and Matanzas.

Matanzas, together with the Juventud Island, were hit hard by the hurricane with some 200 damaged structures reported, the office said.

It was believed that sugar cane and citric plantations, as well as forests, were also seriously damaged, although official preliminary reports on economic losses have not yet been issued.

Electric power has not resumed throughout most of the western region, including Havana, where telecommunications services are slowly recovering. Schools in Cuba remained closed and air and sea travel have been suspended.

More than 700,000 people were evacuated to shelters.

Michelle has now been downgraded to a category three storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Authorities announced that western provinces started recovery efforts Monday, while normality has returned to the eastern part of Cuba.

Cuba's President Fidel Castro, who inspected the storm-ravaged areas on Monday, said he was convinced his country would rapidly recover from the storm, with the help of some organizations and the discipline and determination of the people.

He said the government has prepared food, medicine and construction material reserves to cope with the consequences of the hurricane.

In This Section

China will provide hurricane-hit Cuba with a relief assistance of 5 million Yuan (about 600,000 US dollars). "The relief assistance represents Chinese people's sympathy with the Cuban people".

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