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Southern, central China rains kill 21, force 700,000 from homes (07/06/09)

BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Torrential rains and floods in southern and central China have left at least 21 people dead and two missing.

More than 700,000 people have been relocated as downpours have destroyed houses, flooded crops, cut power, damaged roads and caused rivers to overflow, according to the latest figures from the provinces of Hunan, Fujian, Jiangxi and Guangdong as well as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

In Guangxi, a child was killed and another five were injured Sunday in a landslide when they were playing in the house in Hengxian County, Nanning City, officials said Monday.

In Guangxi's Rongshui county, 62 schools were flooded, and about 300 students were trapped in a boarding school. Most of the students had been taken home by their parents as of Monday morning, while the school was preparing to send home the remaining 17, whose parents were mostly migrant workers.

In Guangxi 328,400 people were relocated because of the rainstorms, said the regional civil affairs department.

As of Monday night, more than 11,000 homes in Guangxi had been toppled and 158,780 hectares of crops were damaged. Direct economic losses from the rains stood at 1.7 billion yuan (250 million U.S. dollars), according to the department.

In the tourist city of Guilin, traffic on 38 highways had been cut off as the highways were damaged by rain.

In central China's Hunan Province, eight people died and 140,000 were forced out of their homes, according to the provincial flood control office.

In Fujian Province, five people died and two are missing.

In Jiangxi Province, three people who were previously reported as missing have been confirmed dead, bringing the province's death toll to five. About 230,000 people had to flee their homes.

The flood control headquarters in Jiangxi said Sunday night that crops on 200,000 hectares of farmland have been damaged and thousands of homes toppled. Direct economic losses were estimated at 3.13 billion yuan (458.9 million U.S. dollars).

In Guangdong Province, two construction workers were killed by a collapsed wall.

In Guizhou, 82 roads were broken by landslides triggered by rainstorms since the end of June, most of which reopened as of Monday. However, a provincial highway was still broken, officials said.

The government was repairing the road, but it was difficult because of the large number of landslides, said Guo Zhihuai, a Guizhou road bureau official.

China is among the countries most plagued by natural disasters, with 70 percent of its cities and 50 percent of its 1.3 billion people living in areas vulnerable to one or more kinds of natural disasters.

China has suffered major natural calamities, including torrential floods in the Yangtze River valley in 1998, severe droughts in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality in 2006, winter storms in southern China early last year, and the massive May 12 earthquake last year.

The United Nations said natural disasters caused nearly 110 billion U.S. dollars of damage in China last year.

 


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