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Millions hit as rainstorm wreaks havoc

Updated: 2013-10-09 00:48
By WANG ZHENGHUA in Shanghai ( China Daily)

Millions hit as rainstorm wreaks havoc

A flooded road causes problems for pedestrians in Shanghai on Tuesday. Typhoon Fitow brought heavy rain to the city, flooding more than 50 roads. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

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Millions of residents were affected as a rainstorm hit a large swathe of eastern China on Tuesday, flooding downtown areas and snarling traffic.

The storm, triggered under the influence of Typhoon Fitow, continued to strike Shanghai and Zhejiang province, forcing both to raise the rainstorm alarm to the highest level of red on Tuesday morning.

In the 12 hours up to 11 am on Tuesday Shanghai reported average rainfall of more than 100 millimeters, while on the outskirts of the city 200 mm fell.

Zhang Ruiyi, a chief service officer at the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said the storm was caused by the remaining depression from Fitow encountering cold air.

The continuous rain, the rising tide and discharge of floodwater from upstream Taihu Lake caused the Huangpu River, which runs through Shanghai, to rise past the warning line on Tuesday.

According to the city's flood control headquarters, the river burst its flood control wall in suburban sections. No deaths were reported in the region.

In Zhejiang, Yuyao, a city with a population of about 850,000, was one of the hardest hit. More than 70 percent of the city's downtown area was flooded, forcing public transportation to be suspended.

The city's power and tap water supplies were also interrupted, and residents are short of food and clean water. Soldiers rushed in large trucks and speedboats to help with disaster response.

But relief for residents in the region is on the way, with forecasters in Shanghai predicting cloudy weather on Wednesday and clear skies from Thursday.

Meteorological authorities in Zhejiang lowered the red rainstorm alarm at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, saying that most areas of the province will remain cloudy on Wednesday and Thursday, with showers in some areas.

Typhoon Danas, following on the heels of Fitow, has turned northeast in the Pacific and is unlikely to make landfall on the Chinese mainland. Meteorologists warned that high winds will hit the east coast although Danas has been weakening.

The death toll from Fitow and the rainstorm it generated has risen to six with another four missing in Zhejiang.

Figures from the provincial flood control headquarters show that by 6 pm on Monday more than 6.31 million people had been affected, with 4,000 houses flattened.

Floods also damaged hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops, killed more than 11,000 livestock, disrupted traffic and telecommunications, put dams and reservoirs at risk and caused direct economic losses of 8.4 billion yuan ($1.37 billion) in Zhejiang.

Li Minji, an official at Hangzhou's flood control department, said flooding was reported in 31 communities and 58 sections of roads in the city on Tuesday, with emergency workers busy clearing floodwaters and bringing in traffic controls.

The water level at popular tourist attraction West Lake rose to 7.48 meters on Tuesday, 0.18 meters higher than the danger level.

In Shanghai, pictures posted by Internet users showed a flooded classroom at Tongji University, two residents in Songjiang district rowing a boat on a flooded road, and a bus nearly submerged in a low-lying area.

Cheng Xu, 40, was just one of many people caught out by the floods on Monday. Her flight, due to arrive at Hangzhou airport at 7 am, was delayed for four hours. A shuttle bus then took two and a half hours to make a journey usually taking 45 minutes.

After she got off the bus, it took her another two hours to get close to her home, with traffic controls in place on the road to her apartment building because of the flooding.

"No cars were allowed on that road. I dragged my suitcases, weighing almost 20 kilograms, and walked in heavy rain from the street to my apartment," she said.

Zhu Zheng, who lives in Hangzhou's Yuhang district, said he woke up to find floodwater inside at least 12 cars in the area.

Flood control departments in Zhejiang launched an emergency response system to help deal with the flooding and urged regional governments to pay close attention to mountain torrents, mudslides, landslides, flash floods in cities and house collapses.

Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou contributed to this story.

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