In 2023, China grappled with a significant surge in natural calamities, affecting a staggering 89.118 million individuals. Such disasters culminated in the tragic death and disappearance of 499 individuals, causing an economic setback of 308.29 billion yuan (equivalent to $42.87 billion). These statistics were announced by the Ministry of Emergency Management.
These cataclysms ranged from floods, typhoons, geological disturbances, and drought, all of which predominated the list. Alongside these, other calamities, namely hailstorms, earthquakes, sand-dust storms, and forest fires, also unfolded, albeit to varying intensities.
During these turbulent times, an approximate 2.751 million individuals were hastily moved to safer locations. In the span of nine months, the natural adversities led to the destruction of 118,000 homes and negatively impacted a vast agricultural landscape of 9714.8 million hectares.
Historical data comparison paints a grim picture. The northern and northeastern regions of China have endured greater severity of such calamities compared to the last five years. During this period, the nation experienced 35 instances of extreme rainfall, amounting to a cumulative measure of 534 millimeters. This deluge induced not only devastating mountain torrents but also triggered various geological disasters.
Diving deeper into the specifics:
- Floods and geological upheavals touched the lives of over 51.904 million people, resulting in the unfortunate death or disappearance of 405 individuals. These adversities razed over 112,000 houses, incurring a direct financial loss of 239.3 billion yuan.
- The first three quarters saw the birth of 14 typhoons in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. Interestingly, this number is below the historical average for the same period. Out of these, China faced direct landfalls from four typhoons. These typhoons wreaked havoc for over 8.078 million residents, with eight confirmed casualties, and inflicted an economic toll of 32.48 billion yuan. Coastal provinces, notably Fujian and Guangdong, bore the brunt of the impact. Highlighting two significant typhoons:
- Typhoon Talim made its presence felt twice in mid-July, hitting Zhanjiang in Guangdong Province and Beihai in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Recognized as the inaugural typhoon to land in China that year, it affected over 1.12 million people across Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan provinces, incurring losses worth 2.61 billion yuan.
- Super typhoon Doksuri ushered in extreme rainfall, especially in the northern China regions. This resulted in flood storage measures being adopted in cities like Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei. Despite these measures, 262 rivers still experienced flood levels above the stipulated safe thresholds.
In response to these calamities, the Chinese government exhibited their commitment by allocating approximately 400 million yuan. This financial aid was directed towards rescue missions and rehabilitation projects in the worst-hit areas, such as Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.
A unique weather phenomenon labeled as severe convection unfolded 33 times across the nation, leading to:
- 5.773 million individuals affected by hailstorms, tragically claiming 53 lives.
- Damage to 1136.4 thousand hectares of agricultural land.
- An economic dent amounting to 11.34 billion yuan.
From a seismological perspective, China endured 59 earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 or above. Notably, the frequency of moderate to high-intensity tremors decreased, which corresponded to reduced disaster-related damages. The aftermath saw 21,000 homes damaged and financial losses totaling 660 million yuan.
Furthermore, the nation faced 308 forest fires, causing five fatalities. On a brighter note, this figure represents a record low, with 192 fewer incidents compared to the prior year.
Recently, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake rocked Shandong Province in East China. Preliminary reports by CCTV News indicated 21 injuries and 126 building collapses in its wake.
To contextualize China’s predicament on a global scale, a study by the Sydney-based research entity XDI revealed a concerning trend. Provinces within China constitute a significant portion of the global list, with more than half being ranked among the top 50 most vulnerable to climate-induced calamities by 2050.
In conclusion, the spate of natural disasters befalling China underscores a pressing need for comprehensive disaster management and climate mitigation strategies. As the world grapples with unpredictable environmental challenges, proactive measures and international collaboration remain imperative.