China, the nation worst hit by geological disasters such as earthquakes and landslides, is bracing for even more in the future, the Ministry of Land and Resources warned on Tuesday.
„China is facing a grave situation,“ said Tian Tingshan, deputy director of the Center for Geological Disaster Emergency Technical Guidance.
Tian said that apart from large earthquakes, geological disasters including landslides and mudslides have become the most damaging disasters in the country.
According to statistics from the ministry, China has suffered 329,000 geological disasters since 1998, leaving 13,925 people dead or missing and causing property losses of more than 61 billion yuan ($9.6 billion).
In 2010 alone, 30,670 geological disasters left 2,246 people dead and 669 missing, with direct economic losses nearing 6.4 billion yuan.
Although casualties and economic losses during the first five months of this year were lower than the same period last year, most parts of China are still facing floods caused by the rainy season, Tian said at a press conference.
The State Council issued a document on June 14 calling for stronger efforts to prevent geological disasters.
„By 2020, a complete mechanism of evaluation, monitoring and early warning, prevention and emergency mechanisms for geological disasters should be established to basically eliminate the threat from large geological disaster hazards and markedly reduce casualties and property losses caused by such disasters,“ the document said.
Tian said geological experts have been sent to geological disaster-prone areas to help local governments to prevent and cope with such disasters.
The Three Gorges reservoir area and some earthquake-stricken regions such as Wenchuan county in Southwest China’s Sichuan province will be the focus where experts stay and do monitoring, he said.
Guan Fengjun, head of the Geological Environment Department at the Ministry of Land and Resources, admitted that relocating residents to avoid potential geological disasters is a very complicated social problem.
Evacuating residents from potential dangerous areas is an effective way to protect people, the State Council document said.
„But as local governments are responsible for the relocation program, it is difficult to set fixed compensation standards for relocated people,“ Guan said.