Monday, February 24, 2014

Costs of natural disasters in China surge to $69 billion

Reuters: Natural disasters including droughts, floods and earthquakes cost China 421 billion yuan ($69 bln) in 2013, official data showed on Monday, nearly double the total in the previous year.
China has always been prone to natural disasters but a changing climate is causing more extreme weather, which hits food production, threatens scarce water resources and damages energy security, according to the government.

Data released by the National Statistics Bureau showed flooding and mudslides cost China 188 billion yuan in 2013, 20 billion more than in the previous year. Damage from droughts rose nearly fourfold to 90 billion yuan, while snowfall, freezes and ocean-related costs totalled more than 42 billion yuan.

Earthquakes, primarily one in Sichuan province in April that killed 186 people, added nearly 100 billion yuan to the costs.

"In recent years, China has seen a combination of floods and droughts simultaneously, with the rain belt moving north past the Yangtze River," Zhu Congwen, a researcher with the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences told Reuters, speaking in a personal capacity. Northern China is seeing more droughts while typhoons are arriving earlier, wetlands drying up and sea levels rising, the government said in a report last year.

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