China to ensure flood victims can return home by winter – state media

BEIJING (Reuters) -China will speed up the reconstruction of destroyed houses in the country’s north and northeast and repair agricultural land to ensure those affected by recent record flooding can return to their homes by winter, state media reported.

The floods, which devastated farms and cities in the northern Hebei province and surrounding areas, saw more than 1.5 million people evacuated.

China’s Cabinet said authorities would speed up the restoration of power and telecom connections destroyed by the floods, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Qiang.

More than 30 people have died in north and northeast China as a result of the floods, state media reported, although there is no updated figure for the number of deaths or a total number of those evacuated.

The record-breaking rains arrived in late July as the remnants of Typhoon Doksuri moved inland, battering northern China.

Rainfall last week broke many records in Beijing and northern China, with the vast Haihe river basin hit with its worst flooding since 1963.

The impact of typhoons is rare in China’s northeast, with most typhoons moving west or northwest after making landfall, meteorological experts say.

The Cabinet said that it would speed up efforts to reconstruct schools, nursing homes and other public facilities to ensure students could start their new term in time.

Financial institutions should swiftly offer credit and help to farmers, agricultural and breeding enterprises in disaster-struck areas to accelerate compensation claims and minimise the impact on people’s lives, the cabinet said.

More than 800,000 police officers had been assigned to protect people’s safety, property and “effectively safeguard overall social stability” in the disaster-hit areas, state news agency Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Public Security.

Police would severely crack down on those taking advantage of the disaster to engage in crimes such as “theft, robbery, picking quarrels and provoking troubles, and looting materials”, it said.

(Reporting by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong and the Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Jon Boyle and Alex Richardson)