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New Research Center Mulled

China is considering setting up a catastrophe research center covering the whole of Asia in a bid to mitigate losses caused by the increasing number of natural disasters.

The center will conduct catastrophe warning and emergency handling experiments, and promote the exchange of information on regional disasters.

The blueprint was spelt out in the 11th Five-Year (2006-10) National Comprehensive Disaster Relief Plan which was made public yesterday. The plan gives no details about its site and staff composition.

However, the plan sets a goal of containing domestic disaster loss to 1.5 percent of annual GDP every year by 2010 while reducing the number of casualties than those recorded in 2001 and 2005.

"Food, clothing and medical aid should be available to a disaster-hit area within 24 hours," according to the plan.

China, a country vulnerable to natural disasters, has suffered a total economic loss of 200 billion yuan (US$26.32 billion) the past 15 years. It affects about 30 million people every year.

More than 70 percent of cities and half of the country's population live in regions vulnerable to natural disasters.

The plan stresses that disaster relief mechanisms should be in place at vulnerable regions and major economic hubs, including the Yangtze River delta, the Pearl River delta and the Bohai rim.

"The extreme weather has broken records in several aspects this year," Song Lianchun, head of the disaster relief bureau of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said yesterday.

"The impact of global warming on China has led to a number of calamities."

West China's Chongqing Municipality suffered its worst drought last year in 100 years and the worst flooding this year in 115 years.

The country's weather authorities have introduced new regulations to combat disasters.

(China Daily August 15, 2007)

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