China Flooding Causes Worst Death Toll In Decade, More Than 700 Dead And 347 Still Missing

Estimated 700 people killed this year as landslides and high water levels causes billions of pounds in damage

Floodwaters in south-west Chongqing municipality, after torrential rains hit areas along the Yangtze river.

Flooding in China this year has killed 701 people, left 347 missing and caused billions of pounds in damage, a senior Chinese official has said.

Three-quarters of China’s provinces have been hit by flooding and 25 rivers have seen record high water levels, causing the worst death toll in a decade, Liu Ning, general secretary of the government’s flood prevention agency, told a news conference.

Aside from the dead and missing, 645,000 houses were toppled and overall damage totalled 142.2bn yuan (£13.7bn). All the figures, Liu said, were the highest China had seen since 2000.

With the flood season far from over, this year is shaping up to be one of the most devastating since 1998, which was the worst in 50 years.

Flooding, particularly along the Yangtze river basin, has overwhelmed reservoirs, swamped towns and cities, and broken off hillsides causing landslides that have smothered communities.

Soldiers have been using bulldozers to plough through debris in search of survivors from separate landslides in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, while workers in other parts of the country scrambled to drain overflowing reservoirs and pile up sandbags to prevent further flooding, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Three people were killed late on Sunday night by landslides in Lingao county in Shaanxi province that also left 17 missing, Xinhua reported. In all, flooding and landslides from rain-soaked hillsides in Shaanxi have killed 37 and left a further 97 missing.

In nearby Sichuan province rescuers searched for 13 missing people after a landslide hit Xujiaping village, burying homes and blocking roads.

Xinhua and the state broadcaster China Central Television reported that the Three Gorges Dam was dealing with its highest ever water levels when a flood crest passed the dam.

The government cited flood control along the Yangtze as one of the main reasons for the dam project that forced the relocation of 1.4 million people and cost 156bn yuan.

Associated Press in Beijing
Wednesday 21 July 2010 08.03 BST

Source: The Guardian

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