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Death toll rises to 42 in NW China storms

(Xinhua)

08:18, May 14, 2012

MINXIAN, Gansu, May 13 (Xinhua) --The death toll had risen to 42 and 17 others remained missing as of 4 p.m. Sunday after hail and torrential rains battered a mountainous county in northwest China, authorities said late Sunday.

Another 6,400 people in Minxian county, Gansu province, need to be evacuated while electricity in 42 villages remained cut off, Liu Changqing, the county's deputy Communist Party chief, told a press conference.

The storms had affected 358,000 people in Minxian county, Gansu province, forcing the evacuation of nearly 30,000 local residents. Another 87 people had been hospitalized.

Persistent rain and cold weather on Sunday hindered rescue operations.

Rains continued to ravage the county on Sunday, bringing temperatures down to zero in mountainous areas. In some places, the rain was mixed with snow, said an official with the county government.

Roads were blocked, houses collapsed, farmland destroyed and power supplies and telecommunications services disrupted by the extreme weather, Xu Guangyao, director of the county's civil affairs bureau, said after the disaster.

Some roads were still blocked Sunday, making it difficult for relief vehicles to pass through.

Workers in bulldozers and excavators were trying to clean up the road, but rains hindered their efforts.

Although nearly 1,000 tents, 1,270 beds and other relief supplies had been sent to the disaster-hit area, local residents were still in need of more relief supplies, such as heavy coats and stoves, because of the freezing weather.

More rains are expected to hit the county on Monday, according to the local weather bureau.

Minxian, with a population of 450,000, is located 150 km from Zhouqu county, where a rain-triggered mudslide killed more than 1,500 people in August 2010.

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