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Storms heading west after killing 6

Updated: 2013-05-02 00:58
By LI YANG in Nanning ( China Daily)

Rainstorms which killed six people in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and swept central and southern areas are forecast to move west.

Torrential rain hit Guangxi on Monday and Tuesday, triggering floods and landslides.

The rain stopped in the region on Wednesday and is forecast to move west to Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces on Thursday.

Some 237 towns in 18 counties across six cities in Guangxi were hit by the storms. By 5 pm on Tuesday, 425,500 people in the region had been affected by disasters caused by storms, with 17,200 transferred to safe areas from endangered homes.

Flooding destroyed 12,580 hectares of farmland and toppled 995 houses, home to 271 families, causing direct economic losses of 69.04 million yuan ($10.96 million).

"The rainfall in late April was much heavier than forecast, in terms of intensity and the area affected. Such torrential rainstorms, which often come in the typhoon season, are rare at this time of year," said Lin Kaiping, chief engineer of the Guangxi meteorological station.

Most rivers, including the Xiangjiang, Guijiang and Liujiang, rose markedly from Monday to Wednesday.

Wei Wenda, head of the Guangxi water hydrology and resources bureau, said: "It's rare for so many main rivers in Guangxi to reach warning levels before the region enters the major flood period.

"Our bureau will keep a close watch on the flood situation and issue timely and accurate flood alerts."

The National Meteorological Center and the bureau issued blue rainstorm and flood alerts for Guangxi on Sunday, the lightest in the nation's four-level rainfall and flood warning system. Six people were killed by lightning strikes, flooding and falling houses in four counties.

The heaviest rainfall of 168 millimeters was recorded in Dutou town in Lingui county, Guilin, raising the water level of the Lijiang River in the city and causing flooding in the urban area.

Guilin Liangjiang International Airport authorities said 16 flights were delayed by heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday, affecting 1,880 passengers. But all passengers had left Guilin by noon on Tuesday, as the rain stopped.

Yan Tianji, a retired resident in Guilin, said: "The water rose so fast, causing trouble for people living in lower-lying parts of the city. But it did not last long.

"As the rain stopped in the urban area, the water receded quickly, and I don't think it will affect tourism too much."

Most tourists arrive in Guilin by road or rail from neighboring Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces. Ferry services and bamboo-rafting on the lower reaches of the Lijiang River in Yangshuo county were suspended from Monday to Wednesday, the local tourism bureau said, while most other tourist services continued to run as usual. Some 7,445 passengers visited the Lijiang River by boat on Tuesday.

The late-April rainstorms also hit Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Anhui and Chongqing, causing flooding in some areas.

Although the National Meteorological Center lifted its blue rainfall alert on Tuesday for these regions, it forecast rainfall for Southwest China on Thursday and Friday, warning of thunder, strong winds and hailstones.

Intermittent rain will fall until Saturday in the earthquake-stricken area of Lushan county in Sichuan, adding to the problems in disaster relief work and reconstruction.

The rainfall will make southwestern areas more vulnerable to landslides. Authorities at various levels have been told to keep a close watch on the situation and take precautionary measures.