Torrential rains batter parts of China, floods spread

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 16, 2011 2:18 PM
Torrential rains batter parts of China, floods spread

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - Pelting rain in parts of central and southern China has forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and prompted the government to demand safety checks on vulnerable dams, news reports said on Thursday.

The torrential rains have ended a drought in many areas, but now threaten the Yangtze River basin and nearby provinces with floods and mudslides that have killed at least 105 people.

In Jiangxi province in east China, troops helped 122,400 residents move from vulnerable low-lying areas, said the China News Service. In Hubei province in the center, downpours two days ago triggered a landslide that left six people missing and blocked the Pingdu River, forcing 2,000 residents to flee in case a wall of water burst through the mud and debris.

"Many small dams face major hazards," said China's Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (fxkh.mwr.gov.cn), adding that "all areas must pay high attention to the safety of dams and hydro stations."

In Zhejiang, an eastern province with many manufacturers, officials moved 120,000 residents as surging flood waters cut hundreds of roads and drove the Qiantang River to its highest flood peak since 1955, Xinhua news agency reported late on Thursday.

Forecasters warned that in the coming days rains could bring fresh dangers, including in the southwest.

"Tonight the rains will start from Sichuan province and Chongqing and move east," said meteorologist Li Xiaoquan, according to China's weather news website (http://www.weather.com.cn).

The national forecaster also said heavy showers could hit Guangdong, the export-driven province next to Hong Kong.

Floods and mudslides caused by the rain have killed at least 105 people and 65 are missing, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday. No official tally of the total number of deaths has been issued since then.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; editing by Tim Pearce)