Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Eastern China wilts under worst flooding in decades

AGENCIES , SHANGHAI AND BEIJING

Chinese paramilitary officers assist residents through floodwaters caused by days of rainstorms in Nanping, Fujian Province, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

At least 55 people have been killed and 12 are missing amid the worst flooding in eastern China in three decades, the government said yesterday. More rain was forecast, with a trough of low pressure bringing more unsettled weather to coastal areas.

At least 378,000 people have already been evacuated from the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Guizhou due to floods prompted by an unusually heavy seasonal monsoon, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

Fujian has recorded 28 flood deaths since the end of last month, with the other two provinces reporting 11 each. Other provinces further inland and to the north have also reported scattered deaths and flood damage.

Direct economic losses so far are estimated at 2.19 billion yuan (US$274 million) in Fujian alone, the Xinhua news agency said.

The rains have caused the biggest flood in three decades along Fujian's Min river, a major conduit for trade and transport in eastern China, according to the Web sites of the provincial weather and water resources bureaus. Some areas of the province had recorded their heaviest rainfalls in half a century, the water resources bureau said.

Meanwhile, eight highschool girls drowned in a fast-flowing river where they were playing after attending a funeral on Hainan, state media said yesterday.

Ten girls and 12 boys had taken the day off school on Wednesday to attend the funeral of a friend's grandfather in Wulie, and waded deep into the river afterwards, Xinhua said.

"The 10 girls were wading hand in hand from a tiny island in the middle of the river back to the bank, but the deep and rapid water rushed them away," it said.

Two fishermen heard their screams and managed to save two of the girls, Xinhua said.

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