China to spend $40m on weather modification programme as floods kill at least 237

Houses are flooded as a dike breaches in Huarong County, Hunan Province on July 10, 2016.
Houses are flooded as a dike breaches in Huarong County, Hunan Province on July 10, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China has allocated 199 million yuan (S$40 million) to spend on its weather modification programme as part of efforts to combat drought and reduce the impact of natural disasters, the finance ministry said on Thursday (July 14), as state media reported that flooding this year caused at least 237 deaths.

The Ministry of Finance said the additional funding had been made available in order to help.

China's regions respond to the large number of "extreme weather events" this year, including heavy flooding in south and central regions as well as drought in the north-west.

The country currently uses weather modification technology - including cloud seeding - to induce rain during droughts, to reduce hail, and to clear the skies ahead of prestigious international events, including the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

China aims to use weather modification technologies to create more than 60 billion cubic metres of additional rain a year by 2020, it said in a document published at the beginning of last year.

Armed police demolished a dyke in central Hubei province on Thursday in a bid to disperse floodwater following days of torrential rain, state news agency Xinhua said. As of Wednesday (July 13), 237 people had been killed by floods with 93 others still missing, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

"At present the flood situation remains extremely grim," CCTV said in a microblog post.