China floods: crop and animal disease warning issued

Northern China has warned of the likelihood of crop and animal diseases occurring as flood waters retreat from rural areas, following some of the worst flooding in six decades.

Hebei province, which shares a border with the capital Beijing, was struck by more than a year’s rainfall last week from storms that followed Typhoon Doksuri, affecting autumn crops and damaging agricultural equipment.

Local authorities must step up measures to prevent and control major disease outbreaks caused by dead animals, pests and insects, Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian said after an inspection of affected areas.

Farms across Hebei have been severely affected, with numerous pigs and sheep drowning in the floodwaters and crops destroyed.

Waterlogging must also be reduced and floodwaters from planted fields drained to minimise crop losses and also ensure that winter wheat planting is unaffected, Tang said.

“Agricultural and rural departments at all levels should accurately assess the disaster situation of farmers, help the affected farmers solve practical difficulties, and prevent disaster-caused poverty or return to poverty,” Tang said in a statement posted on the ministry website.

In Zhuozhou, the worst-hit city in Hebei, workers in hazmat suits sprayed disinfectant in built-up areas to prevent the spread of disease, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Clean water supply has been cut off in some rural areas and Hebei cities such as Shijiazhuang where water pipes and wells were destroyed in the floods, affecting tens of thousands of people.

The Water Resources ministry has declared an emergency response to quickly restore drinking water supplies, including setting up supply points and dispatching water trucks.

Even in Beijing, where at least 33 people have died in the floods, a team of nearly 600 people were “racing against time” to restore water supplies in a rural district.

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