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August 23, 2012

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Shanghai official rejects flooding claims

SHANGHAI'S flood control authority says the city is capable of resisting typhoons and floods, rejecting claims that it is the city most vulnerable to serious flooding of nine major coastal metropolises around the world.

Hu Xin, deputy director of the Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters, said the findings in Natural Hazards - the journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards - was not objective or comprehensive as regards the city's flood control and drainage systems.

"We've built 523 kilometers of coastal levee and the city's flood resistance standard can stand a once-in-200-years high tide level and cope with gales up to 133 kilometers per hour," Hu told Shanghai television news yesterday. "The levee of the Huangpu River and the urban flood control projects enable the city to resist a once-in-1,000- years high tide level of the Huangpu."

Hu also emphasized the city's ability to quickly evacuate people in coastal areas during extreme weather conditions.

"When Typhoon Haikui came, Shanghai evacuated 374,000 people from their makeshift houses, coastal areas or construction sites within one and a half days," Hu said.

But Hu conceded Shanghai was not best placed to resist floods due to its geographical position and welcomed more communication between Chinese and overseas experts.

The findings that Shanghai was the most vulnerable city are based on a new measure called the Coastal City Flood Vulnerability Index, which looks beyond the likelihood of a city's physical exposure to flooding to include social, economic, political and administrative factors.

The study was carried out by scientists from Britain and the Netherlands, and supported by UNESCO and the Dutch government. The other cities were Buenos Aires, Calcutta, Casablanca, Dhaka, Manila, Marseille, Osaka and Rotterdam.


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