Press release of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China
China battles snow storms and icy weather
Since January 10, rare and extremely cold, stormy and icy weather has been sweeping through Southern China and the eastern part of Northwest China. The sudden attack of the disastrous weather has lasted for days and devastated a wide range of areas. The damages are especially serious in 18 provinces/autonomous regions/municipalities, including Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Guangxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Sha'anxi, where daily work and life have been severely affected. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China, as of January 31, the disastrous weather has caused 60 deaths, two missing, urgent settlement of 1.76 million people, collapse or damage of 1.08 million rooms and direct economic loss of 53.8 billion RMB yuan (US$7.5 billion). In some places, the power supply systems have been severely damaged and traffic and transportation seriously disrupted. The number of railway passengers having been stranded has added up to 5.8 million.
The disaster attacked during the run-up to the Spring Festival -- China's most important tradition holiday, and has since been topping the agenda of the Chinese Government. President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other Chinese leaders have given important orders and convened meetings on disaster assessment and relief, inspected the rescue and relief work of the disaster areas and visited the victims of the disaster. The Ministries under the State Council launched the economic coordination mechanism and corresponding emergency plan immediately after the disaster attacked. The State Council also set up an emergency command center to address rescue and relief and coordinate transportation and coal, petrol and power supplies. The relevant government departments, including development and reform, railway, communications, public security, information technology, commerce, and power regulatory authorities, are all working vigorously and in an orderly fashion. The Ministry of Finance earmarked 6.3 billion RMB yuan for disaster relief and appropriated through the Ministry of Civil Affairs 330 million RMB yuan as central government disaster relief subsidy. The civil affairs authorities have assisted and provided shelter to 670,000 stranded passengers and handed out 640,000 winter clothes and quilts obtained from the military. The public health authorities have sent out 4,659 teams of disease control and medical personnel, and provided medical service to 100,000 patients. A total of 306,000 PLA and Armed Police officers/times and over one million public security officers/times have taken part in the disaster rescue and relief. Large scale coal, power and petroleum companies are mobilized to rearrange their holiday plans and work in full gear to support the disaster relief. Various local governments and general public are also putting all their efforts into rescue and relief, and making donations in cash and kind to the people in the disaster areas.
With the hard work of various parties, the situation in the worst hit areas has been alleviated. As of February 2, nation-wide railway, highway and civil aviation transportations have gradually restored normal order except for a few places where transportation capacity has not yet bounced back to the normal level. Apart from Hunan, Jiangxi and Guizhou, the national power grid has basically resumed normal operation and the supplies of coal and electricity are picking up slightly. However, according to the weather forecast, the snowy and icy weather in large parts of Southern China is expected to persist for a few more days in the near future and continue to rack havoc. The worst disaster is not yet over and the situation remains grave. The various levels of government in China are still on high alert and in full gear.
Recently, quite a few world leaders, foreign governments and international organizations have expressed their sympathy and encouragements to China regarding the disaster, deaths and losses, including Ambassador Randt on behalf of the US Government. Some countries have even sent donations in cash to the disaster areas in China. The Chinese Government and people are deeply appreciative of these. We are confident that under the strong leadership of the Chinese Government, the Chinese people will surely overcome this major natural disaster.