No end in sight to China floods after hundreds die

BEIJING, July 23 (Reuters) - Storms are expected to batter large swathes of China again on Monday after floods, landslides and lightning killed more than 150 people last week alone, state media said.

Storms are likely to hit the already swollen Yangtze and Huai river valleys, bringing strong wind or hail.

"Meteorologists warned people in southwestern Chongqing, central Hubei and Henan and eastern Shandong to be on the alert for floods and landslides in the coming three days," the China Daily said.

The provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanxi and the Guangxi autonomous region would suffer heavy rainfall, meteorologists said.

By July 16, China's death toll from natural disasters so far this year was 715 with 129 missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Since the start of the annual rainy season in May, floods have hit nearly half of China and killed at least 400 people, Xinhua news agency said.

State television on Sunday showed President Hu Jintao slogging through Chonqqing's flooded streets in black galoshes and visiting residents whose homes had been inundated.

During a speech in the city's flooded Shapingba district, Hu told residents that the Communist Party and government would do everything possible to help.

Summer is peak rainy season in China, where millions of people in the central and southern part of the country live on farmland in the flood plains of rivers.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people last year, according to the China Meteorological Administration. That was the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer floods killed 4,150.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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