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At least 230 people died in China’s torrential rains, major city threatened by surged river water

Posted by Author on June 26, 2010

AFP, June 25, 2010 –

BEIJING — Chinese rescue teams scrambled to shore up flood defences Friday as a swollen river threatened a major city, after heavy rains across the nation’s south and centre left more than 230 people dead.

Workers and soldiers were patching up dykes in Hunan province after water in the Xiang river, which passes through Changsha city, where over six million people live, surged to its highest level in a decade.

The surge rose 2.5 metres (over eight feet) above the river’s danger marks, the third highest reading since 1953 when records of water levels began, the civil affairs ministry said.

“Water levels on the lower reaches of the Xiang river are rising and will not go down, and will surpass flood warning levels again,” the flood headquarters of the ministry warned.

Television footage showed small towns and rural areas upriver from Changsha deluged with water as residents evacuated low lying areas and scrambled to higher ground carting food and other supplies.

Authorities ordered reservoirs in the upper reaches of the Xiang river to store up more water in an effort to reduce the surging flood crests, the ministry said.

Although heavy downpours were not expected around Changsha on Friday, more than 180 millimetres (over seven inches) of rain fell in parts of Hunan on Wednesday and Thursday, ensuring that rivers would remain swollen, it added.

Overall, downpours in south and central China were receding Friday, it said, but heavy rain continued to fall in parts of Jiangxi, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces and the Guangxi region, where major flooding has already taken place.

At least 235 people have died and 109 were missing since torrential rains triggered flooding and landslides in south and central China from June 13 to June 24, the government said.

The torrential rains have caused 53 billion yuan (7.8 billion dollars) in economic losses, with over three million people forced to evacuate, it said…….(AFP)

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