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Cablegate: Anhui Civil Affairs Bureau Discusses July Floods

VZCZCXRO7859
RR RUEHCN RUEHVC
DE RUEHGH #0482/01 2131025
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011025Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6099
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEAEPA/EPA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 6541

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SHANGHAI 000482

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES-I- ANN COVINGTON
EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL - NGUYEN AND MCASKILL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV PREL PHUM ECON CH
SUBJECT: ANHUI CIVIL AFFAIRS BUREAU DISCUSSES JULY FLOODS


SHANGHAI 00000482 001.2 OF 002


(U) This cable is sensitive but unclassified and for official
use only. Not for distribution outside of USG channels.

1. (SBU) Summary: Anhui Civil Affairs officials in a meeting
with Poloff on July 26 described the current flooding as the
most severe in 50 years. While the worst was likely over, the
disaster had impacted 16 million people, displaced over half a
million, destroyed 90,000 homes, and caused almost 10 billion
RMB in economic damages. The central government was deeply
concerned with the situation, with Premier Wen Jiabao having
visited the region once and Vice Premier Hui Liangyu paying two
visits to the flood scene. While not as severe as the smaller
but more damaging flood in 2003, the provincial and local
governments had already spent more than 150 million RMB (USD 20
million)in relief efforts. End summary.

-----------------
Worst Floods since '54
-----------------

2. (SBU) On July 26 Poloff and FSN Political Assistant met
with Anhui Civil Affairs Office Disaster Relief Department
Director Xue Kunming and Anhui Water Resources Office Deputy
General Engineer Qiu Li to discuss recent flooding in Anhui,
which they described as the worst flood since 1954. According
to Qiu, heavy downpours in Henan Province began on June 29 with
flooding occurring along the Huai, Chu, and Yan rivers. As of
July 25, an area of 58,000 square kilometers had received 30
centimeters of precipitation, within which, an area of 38,900
square kilometers had received 40 centimeters of precipitation.
The floodwaters had reached a peak of 25.59 meters. The central
leadership was paying close attention to the floods. On July 5,
Vice Premier Hui Liangyu visited Anhui to inspect the flood
situation. Hui returned on July 13, accompanied by Premier Wen
Jiabao, a move automatically triggered by the flood waters
passing the warning level. In addition, President Hu Jintao has
issued written directions on how to deal with the flood.

------------
The Human Tragedy
------------

3. (SBU) Xue said that the flood had impacted 16 million people
altogether, affecting the populations of 12 cities, nine along
the Huai River and three in southern Anhui, including Chizhou,
Xuancheng and Huangshan. Around 30 persons had perished during
the flood but, Xue insisted, none had drowned. A tornado
spawned by the thunderstorms killed seven people in Tianchang
County near Yangzhou on July 4. Five or six people had been
struck by lightning, and a number of people had perished as
buildings collapsed. Altogether almost 90,000 homes had
collapsed.

4. (SBU) A larger loss of human life had been prevented
primarily due to three factors. First, the government had done
a good job with water control projects, including reinforcing
critical dikes. Second, a flood in 2003, while not as large as
the current one, had destroyed over 870,000 homes, the vast
majority of which had been rebuilt with better materials and
better building techniques, making them better able to withstand
this year's flood. Third, the Civil Affairs Office had
evacuated 600,000 persons in advance of the flood. Most of the
evacuees temporarily moved in with friends or relatives. The
remainder were evacuated to public buildings on higher land,
such as schools, or into temporary tent cities. Over 8,800
tents had been erected and because the tents often got very hot
money had been provided to purchase tarps to put up emergency
shelters without walls.

5. (SBU) Xue said people were beginning to return to their
homes since the situation appeared to have stabilized. It had
stopped raining on July 25 and Xue expected the waters would
recede quickly. However, according to the Anhui website, rains
began again in the evening of the 26th, forcing the evacuation
of an additional 27,000 people along the Huai River as the flood
crested for a fourth time. As of July 30, the Anhui government
announced that, while it was still at the warning level, the
flood was expected to gradually subside sometime into August.

-----------------
Economic Costs Massive
-----------------

SHANGHAI 00000482 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) Xue said that in total, 22 million mu of farmland had
been flooded, with 7 million mu completely washed out. The
flood resulted in close to 10 billion RMB in economic losses for
Anhui Province. This included 6 billion in agricultural losses
that would directly impact Anhui's poorer residents. The other
four billion was in direct economic losses, such as washed out
roads and bridges or collapsed homes.

-----------------
Paying for the Tragedy
------------------

7. (SBU) According to Xue, the Anhui provincial government had
allocated 89 million RMB (USD 11.87 million) to provide food,
potable water, temporary shelter, clothing, and medicine for
people in the affected areas. In addition, county and city
level governments had spent another 28 million RMB (USD 3.73
million) in emergency relief funds. County and city level
governments had also distributed two million kilograms of rice
and flour. Thus far, Xue said, the government had been able to
maintain social stability throughout the disaster and had also
prevented any large-scale outbreak of communicable diseases.
Xue declined to answer Poloff's question about how much--if
any--funding the central government had provided.

8. (SBU) Neither contact knew whether or not there was NGO
involvement in relief efforts at the local level. Xue said that
while not actively seeking it, donations and volunteer labor
were being accepted and utilized. Anhui had received more than
40 million RMB (USD 5.33 million) from local charities,
businesses, private donors, and other city governments. They
had also received several million RMB from Hong Kong donors.
Volunteers were being directed to the Volunteer Association that
was supervised by the Civil Affairs Office.
SSCHUCHAT

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