July 7, 2008

Roundup: Heavy Rainstorms Ravage China, Leaving at Least 12 Dead and 3 Mln Affected

Roundup: Heavy rainstorms ravage China, leaving at least 12 dead and 3 mln affected

BEIJING, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Heavy rainstorms that swept through most parts of China since Tuesday have left at least 12 dead, seven missing and about 3 million affected.

The casualties were reported after the rainstorms and flooding killed 252 people across China in June.

The new wave of rainstorms have caused suspended shipping service in the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze River, blocked traffic in cities, delayed flights, destroyed homes, and flooded farmland.

Central China's Hubei Province and southwestern Yunnan Province on Saturday each reported that six were killed by the torrential rain.

Twenty-five cities and counties in Hubei, where the country's largest river Yangtze runs through, reported a total of 700 million yuan in damages (102 U.S. dollars).

As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, the province saw another four missing, over 26,600 people evacuated and more than 2.58 million others affected, according to the provincial civil affairs department.

The rains also damaged 105,000 hectares of farmland destroyed and toppled1,063 homes in Hubei.

The provincial government has sent four task forces to investigate the damages. And relief materials, including food, bottled water, tents and clothes, have been sent to the affected area.

Yunnan, where the rainfall over the past 48 hours set a record high, reported three missing, 11 injured, 9,800 evacuated and more than 1,000 homes collapsed, according to the provincial civil affairs department.

More than 970,800 people were affected by the rain-triggered disasters in the province as of 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Rescuers are searching for the missing, and the injured have been hospitalized, said the government.

The atrocious weather also triggered floods in the Yangtze River, where the two huge hydroelectric projects, namely, the Three Gorges and the Gezhouba, both started discharging water to lower the water level in the reservoir. The discharging would continue as more heavy rains were expected on the upper reaches of the river.

The shipping services between two dams were suspended for five hours before they were resumed at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

For thirsty Shandong province, however, the strong rainstorms is not all a bad thing. The province received an average 50 millimeters of rainfall since Thursday, greatly alleviating the drought since June.

However, local meteorologists also warned that the government should consolidate banks and reservoirs for possible flooding of the Yellow River.

More rain was forecast in the next two days in many parts of China and the China Meteorological Administration asked local governments to be prepared.

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