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China warns of more rain after deadly floods

13 june 2011, 18:51
0
A collapsed bridge in Tongcheng, central China's Hebei province. ©AFP
A collapsed bridge in Tongcheng, central China's Hebei province. ©AFP
China's weather authorities warned Monday torrential rain that has triggered deadly floods and landslides would continue, as experts said a recent drought was making the situation worse, AFP reports.

The government said at the weekend that flooding in 13 provinces or regions had already left 94 people dead and 78 others missing, and destroyed 465,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of cropland, an area almost the size of Brunei.

On Monday, the National Meteorological Centre said heavy downpours along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river -- China's longest -- were to continue over the next three days, adding to an already serious situation.

"Water levels in rivers and reservoirs in some areas of the Yangtze river are nearing or have already exceeded warning levels," the centre said in a statement.

It added authorities should step up their checks on dams and reservoirs to make sure they were all working well. "At the same time, they must be on their guards for disasters such as floods, land- and mudslides."

Drought-hit provinces such as Hubei and Hunan along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze are now in the thralls of heavy summer rainfalls, and the recent dry spell has in some cases made the situation worse.

On Friday, one landslide blasted through villages in Hunan before dawn, killing at least 19 people and leaving another eight missing. One village saw most of its houses buried by mud, the official China Daily reported.

Experts sent to investigate said the mudslide was triggered by the heaviest rain in the area in 300 years, adding the recent drought had made the ground drier than usual, making it easier for downpours to sweep away sand and rocks.

China is hit by heavy summer rainfalls every year. In 2010, torrential downpours across large swathes of the country triggered the nation's worst floods in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

One devastating mudslide in the northwestern province of Gansu killed 1,500 people in August.

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