Many children among dead in flooding in Northeast China

By Daniel Schearf

Beijing, 12 June 2005 - The death toll from a flood that hit a primary school in northeastern China has reached 91. China's state media says most of the victims from this latest flood are children.

In a report Sunday, China's Xinhua News Agency says at least 87 school children and four villagers were killed when heavy rains, gushing down a nearby mountain, smashed into their school in Heilongjiang province in northeastern China.

The flood, which occurred Friday, swept away dozens of students in the remote town of Shalan, and covered the low-lying area in mud and debris.

Floodwaters two meters deep rushed through the primary school. Hundreds of children, and more than 30 teachers, were in the school at the time. Twenty-five people have been hospitalized.

On Sunday, China's state television reported on the devastation that hit Shalan.

In addition to scenes of heavy flooding, the broadcast shows dozens of rescuers lined up to aid the locals. Officials say between 150 and 200 centimeters of rain fell within 40 minutes on the area.

The government has allocated more than $500,000 for flood relief to the region.

Floods kill hundreds in China every year. This year's rainy season, though it has just begun, has been particularly deadly. Last week, heavy rains in southern China claimed the lives of more than 200 people and destroyed over 130,000 homes.

More floods are possible in the coming days, as heavy rainfall is expected in the south. China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has urged regional officials to be on high alert.