Floods kill 50; dozens remain missing

Updated: 2011-06-11 07:17
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 Floods kill 50; dozens remain missing

A man navigates through a flood in Chongyang county of Xianning city, Hubei province June 10, 2011.[Photo/Agencies]


BEIJING- A new round of rain and floods battered central China Thursday night and Friday, killing 50 people and leaving 40 others missing in four drought-plagued provinces.

Torrential rain triggered floods and landslides that toppled homes and destroyed river embankments in central China's Hubei Province, killing 25 people and leaving at least 12 others missing as of Friday evening, said a spokesman with the provincial civil affairs department.

So far, more than 127,500 people were forced to evacuate their homes and the floods have caused direct economic losses of 866 million yuan (133 million U.S. dollars) in the province, said the spokesman.

Most of the deaths were reported in the city of Xianning, which was hit by heavy rainfall from 8 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday.

More than 100 people were injured in the floods in Xianning, said a spokesman with the city's flood and drought control headquarters.

In the city's Tongcheng County, which was virtually submerged in water, precipitation topped 300 mm within four hours, a record volume in 200 years.

Flood waters measured more than 2 meters deep in Tongcheng's low-lying areas. Traffic in the county seat was paralyzed, as flood waters in the area measured between 60 to 90 cm deep.

Electricity and telephone services in Tongcheng have been cut off by the floods. More than 300 people living downstream from one of the county's reservoirs had to evacuate after the reservoir was overwhelmed by the floods.

In neighboring Hunan Province, 19 people died and another 28 are still missing after rain-triggered landslides occurred during the early hours of Friday in the cities of Linxiang and Yueyang.

Rain-triggered floods also wreaked havoc in eastern China's Jiangxi Province. By noon, rescuers had rescued 1,200 trapped residents in Xiushui County, where 29,500 have been evacuated to escape rising waters.

Three people, including a child, died after their homes were crushed by landslides in the county.

The downpours between 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday have cut off traffic in 18 townships and disrupted power supplies in five others.

The new round of torrential rain also killed three more people in southwest China's Guizhou Province, where over 50 people were left dead or missing in floods earlier this week.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Disaster Reduction Committee Friday activated an emergency plan to flight floods and sent two work teams to Hubei and Hunan to assist with the disaster relief operations.

The four provinces were among the worst hit by a severe drought in recent months along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, which affected millions of hectares of farmland.

Heavy rains that fell in early June have eased the prolonged drought, but have also inundated 12 provinces in central and southern China, affecting several million people, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Over the weekend, tropical storm Sarika is expected to hit south Guangdong and Fujian provinces, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The storm is forecast to make a landfall somewhere between the city of Shanwei in Guangdong and Zhangpu County in nearby Fujian Province on Saturday, said meteorologist Zhang Dong with Guangdong's provincial meteorological station.

The storm will unleash torrential rains in eastern Guangdong and lash the Bashi Channel and the Taiwan Strait with strong winds, according to Zhang.