China

China braces for more rain after storms kill 76

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BEIJING, June 12 (Reuters) - China braced for more torrential rain on Tuesday in a wild season of floods, house collapses and rockslides across the south and east that have already killed 76 people with 13 missing.

Downpours were forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday for much of southern China, the China Meteorological Administration said on its Web site (www.cma.gov.cn).

In past days, downpours, mudslides and floods hit the provinces of Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Fujian, prompting the evacuation of 788,000 people, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

Flooding and mudslides have so far wrought direct economic damage of about 4.7 billion yuan ($615 million), with 69,000 homes and 136,000 hectares (525 square miles) of crops destroyed, the Ministry said in a statement on its Web site (www.mca.gov.cn).

"While the situation in Fujian, Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou has stablised, the disaster has been growing in Jiangxi and Guangdong because of the strong rainfall in the past two days," it said.

In worst-hit Meizhou municipality in northeast Guangdong, more than 7,000 residents were evacuated after a 40-metre (130-foot) crack appeared in a dam, a local paper, the New Express, reported.

Police, troops and officials rushed to reinforce the dam wall with rocks and sandbags. Heavy rains will not stop in Guangdong until the weekend, Xinhua news agency said.

An official in Liuhuang township in Meizhou told Reuters that 52,000 residents were sheltering with family or in schools and tents after their homes were flooded by the Hanjiang River where water was 4.44 metres (14.5 feet) above the danger level on Monday.

"Rice crops were just devastated. It's not far from harvest but they have all been destroyed," Xu Nengqing said by telephone.

Pictures showed brown flood waters reaching the tops of banana trees and leaving the traditional roofs of rural houses just above the surface.

Xu said the rain had stopped on Tuesday and water had been retreating, but power was only partially restored and many had to resort to kerosene lamps at night.

In the southwestern province of Sichuan, the rain has helped ease a drought, Xinhua said. But it said the combination of high summer temperatures and moisture could lead to crop disease.

China's stormy season is just getting under way in the south. Experts last month warned that the Yangtze could flood badly this year for the first time since 1998 when flooding killed more than 3,000 people.

Some northern regions are being hit by heatwaves, with temperatures in parts likely to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), the Meteorological Administration said. ($1=7.645 Yuan)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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