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Progress on prevention

CHINA has worked to bolster its disaster prevention and emergency response system, it said yesterday on the eve of the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province last year.

The nation dealt with several major natural disasters last year, including the deadliest earthquake to hit the country in decades - the 8.0-magnitude quake that ravaged southwestern China on May 12 and left nearly 90,000 dead or missing. Another 5 million were made homeless.

Earlier in 2008, freak snow and ice storms paralyzed much of the country's south and east at the height of the lunar New Year travel rush.

"Based on the lessons we learned and problems we found in rescue and relief work for the snowstorms in southern China and the May earthquake, we have made efforts to improve the country's disaster management system," Zou Ming, director of the disaster relief department under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, said in Beijing yesterday.

China is building a system to collect statistics on disasters and the damage inflicted, Zou said, launching an experimental satellite remote-sensing system to help construct forecasting models, and shoring up emergency reserves of supplies.

An experimental earthquake alert system, capable of sending warnings within seconds before a quake strikes, would be installed in quake-prone areas.

Zou said China still had much work to do but pointed to progress being made to strengthen capacities to monitor, forecast and prevent natural disasters, and to conduct rescue and relief efforts.

According to a white paper released by the State Council, climate change will mean the likelihood of an increasing number of natural disasters.


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