Landslides, floods plague quake-hit southwest China

BEIJING, July 23 (Reuters) - Four construction workers are dead and more than 50 missing after a landslide took out a dam project in Sichuan province, in the latest of a series of disasters caused by heavy rains in southwest China.

Flooding along the steep mountains that witnessed last year's earthquake has brought more misery to survivors. Local governments in Sichuan and Gansu provinces are sending tents and relief for a second time, as rains and floods displaced thousands of people.

The May 12, 2008 earthquake killed about 80,000 people, left 5 million homeless, and severely weakened the steep slopes that front the fertile Sichuan plain.

Electricity was only just restored on Thursday to 80,000 people hit by floods last week in Longmen, southern Gansu province, Xinhua said.

On Thursday, the heavy rains triggered a landslide at the Changheba hydropower plant in Kangding, temporarily blocking a river. Up to 97 people trapped by the slide have been rescued, but at least 53 are still missing, Xinhua said, citing the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The rapid rivers of Sichuan are packed with hydropower dams.

Neighbouring Aba prefecture, which was hard-hit by the earthquake, has passed regulations forbidding construction of new dams in densely populated or environmentally protected areas, or in places where the geography "lends itself to natural disasters" Xinhua said in a separate report on Thursday.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)


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