Saturday, September 24, 2005

We are not like New Orleans - China

Beijing, Sept 24 - China's southern province of Hainan, which is bracing for the brunt of tropical storm Damrey, said Saturday officials were taking necessary precautions and did not expect the area to turn into a New Orleans.

"Hainan is a province hit by frequent typhoons. Hainan isn't like New Orleans, which was completely flooded and had to evacuate all the people in the city," said an official surnamed Wu at the Hainan flood control headquarters.

The island province, which was expecting Damrey to land Sunday night or Monday, is above sea level, which allows flood waters to drain back into the sea, Wu said, unlike New Orleans, which is below sea level.

In the United States, hurricane Rita was swirling with winds moving at a maximum speed of nearly 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles), forcing the evacuation of a million people in the texas city of Houston.

While Damrey which was expected to crash into Texas and Louisiana Saturday, it was packing sustained winds of up to 105 kilometres (66 miles) per hour at its centre, according to the Hong Kong observatory.

Officials in Hainan and the nearby province of Fujian, nonetheless, were not taking any chances. Hainan Saturday called all fishing boats back to port, Wu said.

In Fujian, 7,091 boats had returned to harbour by Friday, the Xinhua News Agency said. Some 121,000 people, mostly fishermen and fish farmers living in coastal areas of Fujian had been evacuated to safe areas.

Typhoons are such common a occurrence in southern and eastern China that local officials have set aside designated buildings and underground tunnels as shelters for the evacuated.


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