Workers in northeast China toiled yesterday to clean up the mess left by severe flooding that killed four people, forced 250,000 out of their homes and left parts of a city in North Korea under water.
Heavy downpours last week swelled the Yalu River, which forms part of the border between China and North Korea, to dangerously high levels, sending water spilling over its banks on both sides, inundating homes, roads and farmland.
North Korean state media has said leader Kim Jong-Il ordered an emergency military rescue operation in the city of Sinuiju, where 5,000 people were relocated after areas were “completely inundated.”
Authorities in the Chinese border city of Dandong said it would take several days to clear mud and debris, but new storms forecast for later this week threatened to complicate their efforts.
“The flood has receded and the clean-up operation is going on,” an official at the Dandong flood control headquarters said on condition of anonymity. “We can finish the cleaning up in two or three days.”
Another city official said most of the 94,000 evacuated from the city center were taken to schools and other shelters, or had gone to stay with relatives. A total of 253,000 people were evacuated across Liaoning Province.
A couple in their 70s and a mother and son died in Kuandian County, about 100km northeast of Dandong, when flash floods swept away their homes, Xinhua news agency said, citing a local official.
A 60-year-old man was also missing in Kuandian, state media said.
A flood control official in Dandong said the water level on the Yalu had “dropped below the warning line” and some people had returned to their homes, adding that the number of casualties was still being calculated.
In North Korea, parts of Sinuiju and communities near the border were submerged, the state Korean Central News Agency reported. Traffic in Sinuiju was “paralyzed” and flood victims were stranded on rooftops and on hills, it said.
Much of the North’s trade with the world passes through the city.
Meanwhile, authorities in Gansu Province on Sunday called off rescue efforts for 330 people still missing after an Aug. 8 mudslide tore through Zhouqu County, killing 1,435 people, Xinhua said.
The Zhouqu government forbade digging in the debris, fearing that recovering corpses buried for two weeks would spread disease.
In related news, authorities on Hainan were bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Mindulle, which could make landfall early today, packing winds of up to 90kph. Heavy rain was expected to pound the island for three days.
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