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Death toll rises to 53 in NW China storms, 18 still missing


09:35, May 15, 2012

LANZHOU, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in northwest China have reported 53 deaths and 18 people missing as of 4 p.m. Monday as a result of hail and torrential rains that battered two mountainous counties in the region last week.

The government of Minxian county in Gansu province reported 45 deaths and 14 people missing, as well as 114 hospitalizations, in relation to the storms.

Last Thursday's storms affected 358,000 people in Minxian, forcing the evacuation of about 30,000 local residents.

Telecommunication services have been restored and five of 11 affected schools have resumed classes in the county, although authorities said more shelter is needed to accommodate students at the other six schools, as well as patients from local hospitals.

Rescuers are continuing to repair damaged infrastructure and repair roads while searching for the 18 missing. Persistent rains and cold weather have hindered rescue operations.

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.

In Minxian's neighboring Zhangxian county, last week's storms killed eight people and left another four missing as of Monday afternoon.


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