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Storms set to hit southwest of China

By Wang Qian and An Baijie (China Daily)

08:37, July 23, 2012

The storm clouds that caused heavy rains across North China on the weekend, claiming lives and causing traffic chaos, are expected to move to the country's southwest in the next 10 days, the national weather forecaster said on Sunday.

The China Meteorological Administration forecast 100 to 160 millimeters of rain to fall on Sichuan and Yunnan provinces before Thursday and that tropical storm Vincente will arrive in Guangdong and Hainan provinces on Monday or Tuesday, bringing gales and rainstorms to places along the country's coasts.

The amount of rain expected to fall in those areas from July 23 to July 31 may be double the average annual rainfall of the past two decades during the same period, according to the weather forecast.

The frequent torrential rains seen across the country prompted the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters to put itself on a higher alert on Saturday.

Chen Lei, deputy commander of the headquarters, is calling on authorities to prepare for the coming rainstorms and tropical storm. Several teams of experts have been sent to help fight the floodwaters in the worst-hit areas, such as Sichuan, Guizhou and Hebei provinces.

The water levels of more than 10 Chinese rivers exceeded "alarming levels" on Sunday, according to the headquarters.

Chen said the rainy weather is testing the country's ability to control flooding. In August, local governments must be vigilant of the danger of mudslides in mountainous places.

The Ministry of Finance said on Sunday that 120 million yuan ($19 million) has been allocated to help the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and neighboring Hebei province to fight floods, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The money, allocated by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Water Resources, will be spent on repairing damaged water conservancy operations in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei and controlling floods in those places, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Thirty-seven people were confirmed to have died as a result of the heavy rains that hit Beijing on Saturday, according to an announcement on the city's government's official micro blog at 10 pm on Sunday.

Elsewhere, the death toll continued to rise as reports came out on Sunday of more people killed in the flooding.

Eight tourists in Central China's Henan province encountered floodwaters on Sunday morning while they were asleep in their tents on a riverbed near a tourism resort in Nanyang's Neixiang county, the local government said on its website on Sunday afternoon.

Three were swept away along with their tents. The bodies of two of them were found in the river's lower stream but the other camper was still missing on Sunday afternoon, a government report said.

An officer with the Qiliping township police department said more than 20 police officers had been dispatched to rescue the tourists.

"It has been raining heavily here since early July," said the officer, who declined to give his name. "Three farmers had been trapped earlier on their tricycle when they were crossing a riverbed on July 15."

In Sichuan, six people were killed in landslides in Weiyuan county on Saturday, Xinhua reported, quoting the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.

About 120 highways across the country were affected by the heavy downpours on Saturday, prompting traffic jams, according to the Ministry of Transport.

On the highway running from Beijing to Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei, more than 100 vehicles were trapped in floodwaters on Saturday evening, China National Radio reported on Sunday.

On Saturday in Beijing, about 475 flights were canceled and 80 others delayed by more than an hour by 11 pm, according to the Beijing Capital International Airport.
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