Last year, China witnessed the most serious maritime calamities since 1949, which hit all the 11 coastal provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of the country and resulted in 33.24 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion) of direct economic losses.
Li Chunxian, news spokesman of the State Oceanic Administration, indicated at a press conference held in Beijing on Monday that China has experienced frequent oceanic disasters with large incidences in 2005. A total of 176 storm tides, red tides, ocean waves and oil spills occurred, causing US$4.1 billion of direct economic losses and 371 deaths and missing victims.
According to Li, storm tides were the major oceanic calamities in coastal China last year, featuring frequent recurrence in a short period of time, large coverage and huge losses. Its frequency was much higher than the average of past years with economic losses setting a new high. Statistics show that China lost 32.98 billion yuan (US$4.08 billion) in storm tides with 137 killed or missing in 2005. The major affected areas were Zhejiang, Hainan and Fujian provinces.
In addition, cold air waves and cyclonic currents caused 66 shipwrecks in China's inshore areas, with 234 people killed and missing and direct economic losses recording 191 million yuan (US$23.67 million).
(China News Service January 10, 2006)