The Ministry of Civil Affairs issued an emergency notice Friday to tighten the management of relief work in flood-stricken areas.
Relief funds totaling 110.9 million yuan (US$13.36 million) allocated by the central government must be distributed to flood victims within 15 days, and relief materials including food, water, blankets and medical assistance must be available to victims 24 hours after their evacuation, says the notice.
To secure the timely supply of relief materials, all eight state-designated storehouses in Tianjin, Shenyang, Wuhan, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Changsha, Xi'an and Chengdu are required to operate 24 hours a day.
The ministry also required local governments to ensure the accuracy of their disaster situation reports. In the worst-hit Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Hubei and Hunan provinces, the deadline for daily disaster reports has been set at midday.
Departments and officials responsible for false reports, including those that exaggerate or conceal information, will be punished according to relevant regulations and their malpractice will be publicized and corrected immediately.
The notice also requires civil affairs departments to take initiatives in coordinating finance, auditing and supervision departments to supervise the utilization of relief funds and materials.
Earlier Friday, a report released by the ministry said some 569 people had been killed so far in floods, which had caused direct economic losses of 39.87 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion).
As of July 10, flooding had affected 9.559 million hectares of farmland, and 1.458 million hectares had suffered total crop failure.
The normal lives and production of nearly 140 million people had been affected, with 51,000 people reported ill or injured and 2.292 million people evacuated.
(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2003)