Floods Incur Costly Cleanup

Article excerpt

Asia is bracing itself for a huge cleanup bill in the wake of devastating floods which have killed about 1000 people and caused billions of dollars in damages.

Analysts believe the floods could dampen Asia's fragile economic recovery, although the flip side will be a spate of new construction projects to repair damage across the region.

The Philippines, South and North Korea, and Thailand are among the nations affected by the deluge of water. However, China has been hit the hardest by the floods, which started in June.

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said 11.31 million hectares of cropland had been inundated, of which crops on 1.56 million hectares had been destroyed. Total economic losses had reached 66.8 billion yuan (US$8.06 billion), it said.

However, this year's floods are not yet as severe as those of 1998.

Compared to 1998 flooding, the worst in four decades with a price tag of US$20 billion, this year's deluge had affected 58.8 per cent as many people and 52 per cent as much cropland, the ministry statement said.

Despite widespread criticism of shoddy, incomplete work and rampant corruption in flood-control efforts, water officials said huge spending on dike repairs had mitigated the damage.

The China Daily quoted Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng as saying the 60 billion yuan the government poured into flood control after last year's devastation had shown "remarkable benefits". …