China

Attempts to resume normal lives

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published
DATE=8/21/96
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-292009
TITLE=CHINA FLOODS (L)
BYLINE=STEPHANIE HO
DATELINE=CHANGSHA
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: AS HEAVY FLOODWATERS SLOWLY RECEDE FROM HARD-HIT AREAS OF
SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL CHINA, RESIDENTS TRY TO RESUME THEIR NORMAL
LIVES. VOA'S STEPHANIE HO REPORTS FROM THE SOUTHERN PROVINCE OF
HUNAN, 14-HUNDRED KILOMETERS SOUTH OF BEIJING, WHERE MORE THAN
500 PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND TENS OF THOUSANDS HAVE NO HOMES.

TEXT: WITH ITS FERTILE, RUSTY-RED EARTH, SOUTHERN CHINA'S HUNAN
PROVINCE IS KNOWN FOR ITS LUSH AGRICULTURE. HOWEVER, AS THE
TRAIN FROM BEIJING MADE ITS WAY SOUTH INTO HUNAN, THE EARLY
MORNING VIEW OUT OF THE WINDOW WAS OF A LAND DRENCHED WITH
WATER. WHAT USED TO BE RICE PADDIES ARE TRANSFORMED INTO SMALL
LAKES, WHILE SMALL LAKES AND STREAMS HAVE SWELLED INTO MUCH
BIGGER LAKES.

AS THE WATER APPEARED TO BE RECEDING IN SOME PLACES, THERE WERE
SIGNS THAT FARMERS HAVE BEEN BUSY TRYING TO CLEAN UP THE MESS AND
SALVAGE AS MUCH OF THEIR CROPS AS POSSIBLE.

IN SEVERAL PLACES THE WATER NEARLY CAME UP TO THE TRAIN TRACKS,
WHICH, AT THE HEIGHT OF THE FLOODING IN JULY WERE, IN SOME
PLACES, COMPLETELY INUNDATED . FURTHER NORTH, AS THE TRAIN
CROSSED THE YELLOW RIVER INTO HENAN PROVINCE, THERE WAS ALSO
EVIDENCE OF THE RECENT FLOODING. A STEADY FLOW OF WATER COURSED
CALMLY UNDER THE BRIDGE. BUT IT WAS CLEAR BY THE EXCESSIVE
DEPOSITS OF MUD ON ONE SIDE THAT NOT TOO LONG AGO A LARGER
TORRENT HAD OVERFLOWED THE YELLOW RIVER'S BANKS, BY NEARLY A
KILOMETER.

IN LARGE SWATHES OF NEARBY FLOOD PLAINS, DYING ROWS OF PRODUCE
SIMPLY LYING IN POOLS OF STANDING WATER GAVE THE EERIE
IMPRESSION OF LINES OF ABANDONED SKELETONS.

SINCE HEAVY RAINS BEGAN IN LATE JUNE, FLOODING HAS KILLED MORE
THAN 27 HUNDRED PEOPLE THROUGHOUT MANY REGIONS OF CHINA. THE
TOTAL FLOOD DAMAGE IS ESTIMATED TO BE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

IN DENSELY POPULATED HUNAN, HEAVY RAINS CAUSED SEVERE DAMAGE,
ESPECIALLY AROUND DONGTING LAKE, IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE
PROVINCE. THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS SAYS MANY FARMERS LOST THE
SEASON'S FIRST CROP OF RICE IN THE FLOOD AND WERE NOT ABLE TO
PLANT FOR THE SECOND HARVEST. AT THE SAME TIME, RED CROSS
WORKERS IN HUNAN ESTIMATE THAT ABOUT 580-THOUSAND PEOPLE ARE
STILL LIVING IN TEMPORARY SHELTERS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO FOR
AT LEAST TWO MORE MONTHS. RELIEF WORKERS SAY THESE PEOPLE LIVE
WITH THEIR FARM ANIMALS IN CRAMPED AND UNSANITARY CONDITIONS, ON
TOP OF SEVEN METER-WIDE DIKES. MEDICAL SPECIALISTS HAVE BEEN
DISINFECTING WATER AND TRYING TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF DISEASES
THAT ARE CARRIED BY RATS, MOSQUITOES AND THE ROTTING CORPSES OF
ANIMALS THAT HAVE DIED IN THE FLOODS.

A HUNAN OFFICIAL SAYS THE FLOOD DAMAGE IS THE WORST THE PROVINCE
HAS SEEN IN DECADES. THE OFFICIAL SAYS FLOOD-RELIEF EFFORTS
REQUIRE SO MUCH OF THE GOVERNMENT' S RESOURCES THAT IT HAS
CANCELLED MANY PLANNED ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS THE EVENTS TO
COMMEMORATE THE UP-COMING 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF
CHAIRMAN MAO ZEDONG. (SIGNED)

NEB/SH/MGB/SFT/FC

21-Aug-96 11:59 PM EDT (0359 UTC)
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