Rain triggers disasters, killing 43 in SW China

CHENGDU, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Disasters triggered by rainstorm have killed at least 43 people in southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality over the past week, the local government confirmed on Saturday.

A massive mud-rock flow in the county of Jiulong, in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, in western Sichuan, killed 12 villagers and injured another 18 following heavy rainfall Thursday and Friday, a spokesman with the county government said.

Heavy rainfall also caused a landslide in Shimian County in Sichuan's central western city of Ya'an, where a bus was knocked off a highway by a falling rock on Friday night, killing nine people and injuring 14.

The city government of Ya'an closed the Shimian section of the highway for a safety overhaul on Saturday.

An earlier report said a landslide triggered by rainstorm last Sunday killed seven and left three missing in Leibo County of the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.

The 10 victims, including three men and seven women, were from farming families of the Yi minority. The youngest was only two years old, said Zhou Gaopeng, director of the county's disaster relief office.

At least five people were killed by lightning strikes between Sunday and Wednesday in the disaster-hit areas in western Sichuan, the provincial government said.

It said nine people remained missing after being washed away by mountain torrents or mud slides.

In the neighboring Chongqing Municipality, seven children died and 44 were injured on Wednesday when lightning struck their schoolroom in the village of Xingye more than 300 km from downtown Chongqing.

Three adults also died in Chongqing when the most destructive rainstorm so far this year hit the eastern and southeastern suburbs on Wednesday, two of whom were killed by lightning, the other died after he was buried under ruins of his toppled house.

The rain in Chongqing lasted for 32 hours, making it necessary to evacuate 112,300 people from their homes and caused a direct economic loss of 573 million yuan (73.5 million U.S. dollars), themunicipal government said.

Ministry of Civil Affairs sent a relief team to the disaster-hit areas on Saturday, bringing tents, quilts, clothing, food and medication.

The ministry said about 32,000 people had been relocated as rainstorms inundated 500 houses and damaged 5,800 dwellings in Sichuan.

In Jiulong county alone, about 16,200 people were affected by the disaster, which destroyed 1,300 hectares of farmland, washed away 2,175 head of cattle and toppled more than 3,000 houses.

The ministry placed Sichuan's direct economic losses at 58 million yuan (7.4 million U.S. dollars).

The disaster also destroyed more than 4,000 meters of a pivotalhighway linking the western outback with Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu, and traffic has yet to resume as of Saturday.

Editor: Pan Letian