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Geological Disasters Up 449% in First Nine Months of 2006
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The number of dangerous geological events in China surged in the first nine months of this year, said the Ministry of Land and Resources on Wednesday.

From January to September, a total of 95,454 geological events occurred in China, four and half times more than the same period of 2005, the ministry said.

Vice Minister Yun Xiaosu told a meeting here on Wednesday marking International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction that 586 people were killed by geological disasters in the first nine months of the year and 105 others are still missing.

Yun said the number of casualties caused by geological disasters increased by 14.4 percent year on year, compared with January-September of 2005, without elaborating on the exact figures.

The ministry attributed the sharp increase of such disasters to the several typhoons that swept China this year causing mud slides and rock falls.

The minister warned that China faces a tough task in the prevention and control of geological disasters as more than 6 million square meters of land, or 65 percent of the country's total, belongs to areas prone to landslides and surface subsidence.

Geological disasters also threaten the safety of key state infrastructures, cities and towns and the lives of the people, he said.

The lives of more than 35 million people are threatened by 229,200 potential geological disasters in the country, which may cause property losses of over 1 trillion yuan, said the official.

(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)

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