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Millions of Disasters Victims Need Grain, Clothing

More than 78 million victims of natural disasters will be looking to the government for grain rations, while 20.4 million need clothing and 5.7 million need medical treatment this winter.

"We are confronting the heaviest winter relief work in recent years," said Li Liguo, Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance met on Wednesday to discuss how to help the victims get over the winter.

"There should be enough warm houses to accommodate all people whose houses were ruined in the disasters. They should be able to move into new residences before the Spring Festival," said an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs at a video conference. 

With Spring Festival still more than two months, construction of more than 580,000 replacement homes is still underway.

In 2006, China suffered the most serious natural disasters since 1998. According to statistics of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, natural calamities have caused the death of 2,374 people while 568 remain missing. More than 13.2 million people sought emergency shelter or had to be evacuated from their homes as more than 2.02 million houses were destroyed.

Direct economic losses caused by the disasters totaled more than 217.7 billion yuan (about US$27.9 billion).

So far, the central government has allocated 4.9 million yuan as subsistence allowance to people living in disaster zones.

(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2006)

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