July 17, 2006

Floods ravage south China

BEIJING (Reuters) - Torrential rains killed at least 164
people across south China over the weekend, flooding major
cities, sweeping away houses and cutting off a main rail link,
state media reported on Monday.

The rains were triggered by Tropical Storm Bilis, which
killed dozens in the Philippines and Taiwan before hitting
China on Friday. Forecasters had said the storm would weaken as
it hit China, but instead it wrought havoc across the country's

Downpours continued on Monday across much of southern
China, where 12 million people in six provinces have been
affected by floods and 138 are still missing, state-run China
Central Television (CCTV) said.

A section of the Beijing-Zhuhai highway that links the
national capital to the country's southern industrial hubs has
been submerged by water as deep as three metres (9 ft 10 in) in
Hunan, CCTV said.

In far-southern Guangdong province, floods severed water
supplies and caused blackouts in Shaoguan, a city of half a
million, the television said.

In the southeastern coastal province of Fujian, where Bilis
made landfall in China, floods swept away 19,000 homes and
forced the evacuation of 519,000 people, the Beijing News said.

CCTV showed pictures of residents wading in water up to
their knees on flooded streets in the provincial capital

South China is plagued by rainstorms every summer, but this
year's flood season has been particularly deadly, already
claiming hundreds of lives before Bilis struck.

The Beijing-Guangzhou railway was cut near Shaoguan,
disrupting cargo and passenger services, and it was unclear
when trains services could resume, CCTV said.