Rescue accelerates after worst flood

07:57, July 15, 2010      

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Rescuers struggled through waist-deep waters in the flooded streets of a central China city to save lives Wednesday while soldiers blasted part of a dike in a nearby county and dismantled four others to divert flood waters from other communities.

Armed soldiers transfer citizens in Anqing, east China's Anhui Province, on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Heavy rainfall hit Anqing on Tuesday, causing severe flood in the city. Some 600 soldiers and more than 20 speed boats were dispatched to rescue people trapped by the flood. More than 20,000 residents have been transferred to safe places.

Rescue and relief operations have been accelerated in flooded cities and towns along the swollen Yangtze River as the weather improved slightly after days of torrential rain.

Authorities in Anqing, a Yangtze port city located in central Anhui Province, said the city was partially submerged after being hit by the heaviest rain in five decades over the past few days.

In the worst-hit Daguan district, flood waters rose to up to three meters, turning streets into rivers and cutting communications, and power and gas supplies.

About 8,000 homes were flooded, officials said.

Firemen on rafts attempted to reach stranded residents in isolated buildings in the town center.

Anqing disaster relief officials said about 2 million residents were affected. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, two people were confirmed dead in the floods while 10,000 people had been evacuated.

In a residential community, Xinhua reporters saw a 73-year-old disabled woman carried out of a building on a stretcher. Her neighbors, who remain stranded on higher floors of the building, watched through their windows as they anxiously waited for rescuers to come.

As soon as the rain stopped, shop owners began to salvage goods that had been washed out of their stores.

In Tongcheng City, under Anqing's jurisdiction, soldiers on Wednesday used explosives to blast part of a leaking dike on a swollen branch of the Yangtze River that threatened to riverside villages.

The plan to blast part of the Qingcao Township Dike on the Dasha River was delayed Tuesday after torrential waters snapped the detonator wires.

Days of torrential rain have caused many leaks on dikes on the Dasha River. More than 1,000 residents living near the river were evacuated.

In Huaining County, soldiers were ordered to partially dismantle four small dikes to allow flood waters to swamp farmland instead of spilling out of a dam and threatening a town with a population of 100,000.

Some 6,000 mu (400 hectares) of farmland near the larger West Dam in Huaining County will be "sacrificed," Liu Feiyue, head of the Huaining government, told Xinhua Wednesday.

Heavy rains in parts of central and east China since July 8 have caused major lakes and tributaries of the Yangtze River to rise to alarming levels.

More than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes in east China's Jiangxi Province Wednesday morning after rain triggered flash floods, flood control authorities said.

Water overflowed the dikes at three reservoirs in Poyang County, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said.

The torrential rain has also pounded parts of west China's Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Chongqing and Yunnan regions, according to the National Meteorological Center (NMC).

At least 13 people are dead and 32 are missing after flash floods and landslides that struck Xiaohe Township, Qiaojia County, in southwest Yunnan Province early Tuesday.

Two rain-triggered landslides killed at least 14 people Tuesday in the neighboring province of Sichuan.

The NMC Wednesday maintained its orange alert -- the second highest level warning -- for the storms, saying the rains would continue through to Thursday.

Since the beginning of July, torrential rains and severe flooding has left 107 people dead, 59 missing and forced the evacuations of almost a million people in 10 Chinese provinces, mostly along the Yangtze River, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday.

Source: Xinhua


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