06/02/2005, 00.00
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Torrential rains kill 36, displace 100,000

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Torrential rains left 36 dead and 42 missing in Hunan province, central China, local officials said, forcing the government to move so far 100,000 people from the affected area.

"Local civil affairs departments have dispatched rice, clean water and other relief materials to affected people. The worst hit area is Xinshao county," Fang Zhiyong, a State Civil Affairs Ministry official, said.

"In the area, there is a desperate need for medicines," Shen Guirong, director of the propaganda department in Xinshao district, added. "Around 3,500 buildings collapsed in this county alone. [. . .] Telecommunications, transportation and water supplies are not working. It will take time to restore them."

Taizhimiao village in Xinshao County is one of the worst hit. More than 400 villagers are still stranded there after floods swept away bridges and roads, preventing rescue teams from reaching them.

The local government is however trying to erect a temporary bridge to bring them out, Mr Shen added.

At least 24 cities and counties in the province have been pounded by torrential rains since May 30—altogether more than two inches (almost six cm) of rain has fallen on Hunan in the past 24 hours.

Thousands of people perish every year from floods, landslides and mudflows in China, with millions left homeless and harvests destroyed, but officials have warned this year could be worse than usual.

Last month Qin Dahe, a top official at the China Meteorological Administration, warned of an "apocalyptic" summer of severe drought and floods.

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