Recent Chinese snowstorms signal ‘freak weather’ becoming the norm – UN

6 February 2008 –

The recent snowstorms in China which have directly impacted more than 100 million people throughout the country have signaled that “freak weather” is becoming increasingly more common, the United Nations body that seeks to mitigate the impact of natural disasters said today.

China has suffered its worst snowstorms in half a century, affecting power and water supplies, transport, agriculture and financial markets. The Government estimates the direct costs alone of the damage to be $7.5 billion.

The world must prepare for “new kinds of disasters,” said Salvano Briceño, Director of the UN secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). “Reducing vulnerability to these unexpected extremes must be a top priority for governments.”

Two of the nearly two dozen badly-hit southern Chinese provinces, Hunan and Guizhou, are known for their subtropical climate, but the storms’ unanticipated intensity surpassed the regions’ preparedness strategies.

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