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South China braces for more floods

07-12-2010 10:36 BJT

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhuanet) --More downpour and floods in South China are expected by Wednesday after regional flooding and landslides triggered by torrential rains killed at least 50 people since the start of July.

Heavy downpours in the past few days have destroyed roads and bridges and halted at least 16 provincial highways in Chongqing, Fujian, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Hunan and Qinghai provinces. All trains to and from Chongqing were suspended on Saturday, the Ministry of Transport said.

Since July 1, flooding, landslides and torrents of mud in South China have killed at least 50 people. Another 15 are missing, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said late Saturday.

More than 17 million people in nine provinces have been affected and about 597,000 people relocated since the start of July, according to the ministry.

About 42,000 homes have collapsed and another 121,000 have been damaged. About 946,500 hectares of farmland were damaged or destroyed, with economic costs estimated at up to 8.9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion), the ministry said.

The National Meteorological Center said on Sunday that more rains are expected before Wednesday.

The weather center expanded its orange alert for rainstorms, the second highest level for heavy rains, on Sunday. It forecast middle to strong rains for Sichuan, Chongqing and Guizhou provinces with the highest rain volume expected to reach 300 mm in some parts.

The heavy rains will last until July 20 in some parts of the southern region, the center predicted.

Hui Liangyu, vice-premier and director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief headquarters, urged local governments on Saturday to prepare for severe floods, especially along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake and Huaihe River.

He said China has been facing "very complicated" weather conditions since the beginning of the year, adding that the frequent rainstorms and massive floods are "very rare".

He called for government departments to closely monitor the weather information and reinforce dams and dikes to minimize casualties and losses.

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