China floods kill 52 people, more rain forecast in south

08:37, June 09, 2011      

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Floods have killed 52 people and left 32 missing in China since the flood season started in June, a senior official said Wednesday, warning of more heavy rains.

Heavy rains have inundated parts of 12 provinces in central and southern China and affected 4.81 million people so far since the flood season arrived, Shu Qingpeng, deputy head of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, told a Wednesday press conference.

In the worst-hit southwestern province of Guizhou, floods have killed 21 people and left 32 missing in the past few days, forcing nearly 100,000 people to evacuate.

More than 3,000 rescuers are working to locate the missing and fight the floods in the province's Wangmo County, where all the deaths and most of the missing were reported after downpours lashed the county Monday morning.

The county recorded a maximum one-hour precipitation of 122.5 millimeters, the most in 200 years, Shu said.

More than 45,000 people in Wangmo have been evacuated from their homes to escape the rising water. Food, coats, tents and quilts have been dispatched to the county.

Chen Mingming, Party chief of the Qianxinan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, which administers Wangmo, vowed Wednesday to spare no efforts to find the missing and ensure basic living for the evacuees.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of Civil Affairs on Wednesday allocated 35 million yuan (5.39 million U.S. dollars) to help flood relief.

The MOF said in a statement on its website that the fund would be used to help relocate evacuees, provide temporary living assistance, reconstruct destroyed buildings and offer pensions to relatives of those who perished in the floods.

Floods in the neighboring province of Jiangxi also forced more than 13,600 people to flee their homes.

Since June, floods have destroyed 7,462 houses and submerged 255,000 hectares of farmland in China, incurring direct economic losses of 4.92 billion yuan (760 million U.S. dollars), Shu said.

Heavy rainfalls have drenched the previously parched lower and middle parts of the Yangtze River basin, increasing water of rivers to alert levels in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou.

According to Shu, the rain has put an end to the persistent drought in the provinces of Jiangxi, Guizhou and Zhejiang.

The drought in Hubei and Anhui has also been eased, but in the nearby province of Jiangsu, more rains are needed to provide relief.

Thunder showers also hit the country's north Tuesday night.

Two people were killed and one was injured by lightning in Beijing, where more than 1,000 thunder strikes were recorded late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

In the northern province of Hebei, a wall collapsed in a rainstorm Tuesday evening, killing one passerby and wounding six others.

According to Shu, southern China will be hit by more rain over the coming few days. He asked local authorities to closely monitor rainfall and water levels and warned of more floods, landslides and mountain torrents.

Source: Xinhua
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