Death toll from SW China landslides rises to 40

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CHUXIONG, Yunnan, Nov 04, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The death toll from landslides and mud-rock flows in southwest China's Yunnan Province has risen to 40, with five more people confirmed dead, local authorities said Monday.

The bodies were found in Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, the area hardest hit by days of torrential rain, according to the provincial civil affairs department.

The geological disasters that followed almost 10 days of rain had also left 43 others missing, 10 injured and 60,800 evacuated as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, with about 1.27 million people in nine cities and prefectures affected, according to a report by the department.

The document gave no breakdown of the casualties in different cities. But Chuxiong had so far reported 24 deaths and 42 people missing.

Four deaths were reported in the provincial capital Kunming and two in Lincang City.

Damage was also reported in Honghe, Dali, Yuxi, Baoshan, Zhaotong and Dehong, where power supplies and telecommunications links were cut and infrastructure was damaged.

In Chuxiong, landslides and cave-ins were seen every 200 meters on some village roads.

As of Monday night, more than 1,500 homes were destroyed and another 15,000 damaged. Almost 9,000 hectares of cropland was destroyed.

Fa Yubin, deputy head of the Chuxiong prefectural government, said the government had helped relocate 32,100 people whose homes were damaged.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has decided to allocate Yunnan 13 million yuan (1.9 million U.S. dollars) for relief work and the provincial government also allocated 10 million yuan (1.46 million U.S. dollars) to the affected areas.

The government of Chuxiong was also sending rice, clothes and other necessities with hundreds of soldiers, police, local government officials and medical staff were helping those affected.

Fa said the priority of the relief work to clear the blocked roads to ensure the relief materials could be sent to the needy villagers as soon as possible.

Weather forecast said heavy rain could continue in the affected areas in the next day, hampering relief efforts.

Chuxiong has strengthened monitoring in the mud flow-prone areas and patrols along reservoirs and dams.