06/24/2005, 00.00
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China: more than 500 people die in flooding and landslides

The worst storms in recent years have forced more than one million people to flee

Beijing (AsiaNews/agencies) – More than 536 people have died and 137 have gone missing in China in the last two weeks in floods and landslides of the monsoon season, one of the worst in 100 years. Nearly 1.4 million people have been forced to leave their homes and another 16.68 million are on a state of alert.

 The greatest damages have been confirmed in the south, where at least 97 have died and 41 have gone missing in the past week alone. The residents of Wuzhou in the southern province of Guangxi, are used to summer floods but few can recall such downpours: the level of the Xijiang river in the western flow has risen to 26.75 metres, nearly reaching the record of 27.07 metres back in 1915.

The torrential rains have continued for nearly two weeks and many residents have exhausted their supplies of food and water. Some residents barricaded themselves in the top floor of their homes, and when the waters reached the floor, they escaped thanks to makeshift vessels. The waters have invaded three commercial buildings in the eastern zone of the city where the power supply of one million residents has been cut off.

So far, damages have been estimated at around 11.3 billion yen (1.3 billion US dollars).

The Civil Affairs and Finance Ministries have allocated 35 million yen for aid to Guangxi and Fujian, the two regions worst hit. The government also sent 9,000 soldiers to Guangxi to help the population to build makeshift dams. Very severe damage has also been found in the regions of Guangdond, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Hunan. According to the meteorological centre, the rains "are diminishing".

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