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Chinese president, premier urge all-out efforts to protect the public from floods, minimize damages

BEIJING, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have ordered ministries and local governments to ensure the safety of the public and minimize property losses as the country entered the flood season.

Hu and Wen stressed that people residing in areas under the threat of floods and typhoons must be relocated to safety in a timely manner and their life and work must be minimally disrupted, according to a statement from the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters released on Wednesday.

Further, ministries and local governments should enhance river and water checks as well as meteorological monitoring and early warning forecasts, make every endeavor to guard against landslides, mud-rock flows and other geological disasters and prepare for possible floods in major rivers as well as typhoon disasters, according to Hu and Wen's directives.

Also, water resource projects must be managed scientifically to ensure the safety of reservoirs and riverbanks, Hu and Wen said, demanding the improvement of accountability of officials for flood control and disaster relief efforts among governments at all levels.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Wednesday presided over a video conference on flood control and relief work along the Yangtze River, passing on Hu and Wen's directives and making flood control arrangements with local governments in Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Sichuan provinces, along with the Chongqing Municipality.

Hui said this year China was facing a grave situation of combating floods and providing relief to those affected by natural disasters due to extreme weather conditions.

"Now it is a critical moment for flood control and relief efforts along the Yangtze River valley," Hui noted.

Torrential rains had pounded southern regions of China during past weeks, causing heavy losses in the region.

Also, rainstorms and subsequent floods have left hundreds of people dead in 10 provinces and municipalities in China, mostly along the Yangtze River, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The vice premier said flood control and disaster relief work must be given top priority and the safety of the public must be put first along the Yangtze River and those regions hit by continuous rainstorms.

Hui urged local authorities to prevent major riverbanks from bursting, strengthen flood-threatened dams and hydropower projects, and relocate people in at-risk areas to safe places as soon as possible.

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