At least 2,700 dead in Chinese floods

News and Press Release
Originally published
BEIJING (Aug 13, 1996 1:29 p.m. EDT) - The death toll from floods and storms across China has risen to at least 2,700 and civil affairs officials said Tuesday money was being distributed to ensure swift recovery from the annual summer disasters.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said 824 people had been killed and at least 32,246 injured by floods and storms in northeastern and southeastern China since late July.

Damage was estimated at more than $6.2 billion.

In southwestern, southern and central China, flooding killed an estimated 1,875 people as of July 18 after rivers burst their banks and typhoons dumped record rain on coastal provinces.

In northwestern Xinjiang province, at least 59 people were killed and 89 were missing after torrential rains caused flash floods and burst a dam in late July, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement from its regional headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

It was not clear if these deaths were included in Chinese figures.

But 19-year-old Jiang Cailian made a miraculous escape after she was swept away by floodwaters as she searched for her father in the family's waterlogged watermelon field in northwestern Gansu province, the Xinhua news agency said.

Jiang, who could not swim, survived a 12-hour ordeal as she was swept 76 miles along the rain-swollen Jinghe river, plunging over two high dams and avoiding six bridges and other obstacles. She was plucked to safety by a man who spotted her just seconds before she would have been swept over a third dam.

The latest victims were in southeastern Fujian province, which has been battered by three typhoons this month. Officials there were racing to restore communications and to rush relief to more than 100,000 left homeless.

"People in some towns have to sleep outside and do their cooking in the open because we don't have enough tents," an official of Fujian's hardest-hit Changting county said.

More than 400 People's Liberation Army troops had been mobilized to help with rescue work and were toiling with volunteers to clear debris from the floods that had inundated two-thirds of the county, the official said.

Copyright =A9 1996

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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