China natural disasters cost $3.3 billion in first quarter, government says

BEIJING (Reuters) – Floods, droughts, an earthquake and freezing conditions in China caused direct economic losses of 23.76 billion yuan ($3.28 billion) in the first quarter, the government said on Saturday.

The emergency management ministry cited damage from several cold spells, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, landslides in Yunnan province in the southwest and flooding on the Yellow (OTC:) River.

The disasters killed 79 people while 110,000 needed emergency relocation and resettlement and 10.4 million people across 26 regions and provinces were affected in the period, the ministry said in a report.

Other natural disasters included a drought in the southwest affecting 424,000 hectares (10,500 acres) of crops, sandstorms in the northwest and forest fires in the southwest and south.

Last year natural disasters in China caused 345.45 billion yuan ($47.7 billion) of direct economic losses, with 691 people dead or missing, the ministry reported in January.

In January the ministry said it plans a three-year campaign to tackle problems hampering response times during disasters and accidents, including production safety lapses in sectors like mining.

($1 = 7.2371 renminbi)

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