MOSCOW, January 5 (RIA Novosti) - Floods in China killed 673 people with another 159 listed as missing, causing over $50 billion in direct economic losses last year, Xinhua reported on Saturday.
"The death toll was about half the average number seen in previous years," Zhang Zhitong, head of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, was quoted as saying.
Serious floods hit the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the upper and lower reaches of the Yellow River and northern parts of the Haihe River last year, pushing up water levels on more than 420 additional rivers, Zhang said.
Floods inundated 184 cities and affected about 120 million people, about 10 percent less than the average in previous years, he said.
More than 16 million people lacked access to clean drinking water due to droughts last year, about 40 percent less than the average in previous years, Zhang said.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.