Sun, Jun 04, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Heavy rains leave 22 dead in China's Fujian Province

AP AND AFP , BEIJING

Heavy rains have drenched a province in southern China, leaving 22 people dead and forcing the evacuation of 50,000 people, state media reported yesterday.

Disaster crews bearing tents, quilts and rice were dispatched to flood-hit areas in central and northern Fujian Province, where the torrential rains began falling on Tuesday, the reports said.

Some areas received more than 20cm of rain, the China Youth Daily reported, and the Xinhua News Agency said more rain is expected this week.

So far, the provincial government said in a statement, the rains have destroyed about 23,000 homes and caused 524 million yuan (US$65.4 million) worth of damage.

Heavy rains afflict southern China every year around this time. The China Daily, citing the head of the state flood control agency, said all told 59 people have died in floods this year and 11 are still unaccounted for -- a lower than average toll.

In addition, the newspaper said, that the rains have caused 13 billion yuan in economic losses, about the average for this time of year.

In the southern province of Guangdong, the streets of Chayang town were covered in water 4m deep, after rains forced two hydropower stations to discharge waters from reservoirs, the China Daily said.

The secretary-general of the state flood control agency, E Jingping (鄂竟平), called on officials nationwide to ensure the safety of country's reservoirs, Xinhua reported. Flooding weakens dikes, and E cited one of China's worst catastrophes -- the collapse of dikes holding two reservoirs in 1975 that killed 26,000 people in Henan Province.

Since serious flooding of the Yangtze River in 1998, China has spent billions of dollars on flood mitigation.

Major rivers have been brought under greater control and early warning systems have been put in place, but flash floods and landslides caused by unprecedented rains continue to cause major damage.

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