Mon, Jul 06, 2009 - Page 1 News List

South China floods kill 16, thousands flee their homes

AP , BEIJING

Floods blocked roads in southern China, leaving some 300 teenagers stranded at a school with limited supplies of food and water, an official said yesterday, after days of heavy rain killed at least 16 people.

More than 320,000 people have fled their homes in southern and central China after heavy rains toppled houses, flooded roads and damaged a dam, news reports said.

Flood waters blocked the entrances to the Hemu Town Middle School in the Guangxi region and rendered nearby roads impassable, said an official in Rongshui County, where the school is situated. She would only give her surname, Lu.

CCTV said floodwaters along a major commercial thoroughfare elsewhere in Rongshui were more than 2.5m deep. The report said it was the highest water level the county has seen in a decade.

Flood control officials used boats to deliver food, mineral water and other supplies to the school on Saturday, including pumps to lower the water level, Lu said.

She said she did not know how long the children, aged from 13 to 15 years, had been stuck in the building.

Heavy rains have battered the region since Wednesday. By Friday, 80 percent of the county was inundated, causing the Rongjiang River to overflow its banks and forcing the relocation of more than 70,000 people, Lu said.

CCTV showed flooded Rongshui streets, where the signboards of restaurants and shops were all that could be seen above the water. Mattresses, household items and other debris drifted in the water.

The county government estimated the damage at 210 million yuan (US$31 million), Xinhua news agency reported.

The rain also destroyed a 13m section of a dike near the base of the Kama Reservoir in Guangxi, Xinhua said.

About 15,000 people who lived downstream from the dam were moved to safety and were now living in more than 1,000 tents, the national flood control office said in a statement on Saturday.

In the central province of Hunan, floods have killed eight people and forced 140,000 to relocate. Five people have died in southeastern Fujian Province, two others were missing, and 22,000 people have been evacuated, Xinhua said on Saturday.

Another three people died and four were missing in Jiangxi Province and in the Guangxi region another 80,000 people were forced from their homes.

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