Better response to disasters planned

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing has pledged to enhance its capacity for disaster response after recent snowstorms paralysed transport and claimed at least 129 lives.

Speaking at a national conference on reconstruction yesterday, Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo said more work was needed to strengthen interdepartmental co-operation and set up a better mechanism to improve the work among disaster relief departments.

He also pledged to accelerate the construction of 13 national-level warehouses for disaster relief supplies. He said Beijing would draft emergency plans for larger disasters and provide examples of solutions to help local governments.

He did not mention why the central government had waited so long to activate the emergency plans - drafted since the 2003 Sars epidemic - for the winter disaster, nor whether it planned to review the existing 106 emergency plans for their effectiveness.

Mr Li said a compensation system would be set up when properties were appropriated for emergency relief. Beijing would also encourage volunteers to take part in relief work.

He said 1.66 million people were still displaced and would receive temporary relief subsidies until their houses were rebuilt. Reconstruction would take about five months.