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Floods cost China 8.2 bln US dlrs so far this year: official

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BEIJING, Aug 01, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- China's direct economic loss from floods this year reached 56.19 billion yuan (8.21 billion U.S. dollars) as of Friday, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.

The floods left 346 dead and 101 missing in 27 localities nationwide, with more than 77.89 million people and 4.65 million hectares of farmland affected and 294,400 houses destroyed, Chen Lei, vice director of the office, said on Friday at a working conference here.

Chen, also the Water Resources Minister, said China had experienced frequent natural disasters this year, including the snow havoc this winter and the May 12 deadly quake that had killed 69,207 people.

He added the country also suffered more typhoons and more severe floods covering a vaster area compared with previous years.

However, figures revealed the death toll and the number of homes destroyed fell by 80 percent and 70 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year, due to joint efforts made by the central and local governments.