CHINA / National

Storms kill 349 people in June; more rain expected
Updated: 2006-07-04 10:56

Flooding, landslides and other disasters triggered by torrential summer rains killed at least 349 people in China in June, and more heavy rains are expected in the next 10 days, a government news agency reported.

Some 99 people are still missing, while damage is estimated at 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion), the Xinhua News Agency said late Monday, citing the China Meteorological Administration.

All of the June flooding was in China's south, from typhoon-lashed Fujian on the east coast through populous Guangdong and Sichuan provinces to Yunnan in the southwest.

China suffers hundreds of rain deaths every summer. The impact of flooding has been worsened by centuries of heavy farming and tree-cutting that left denuded hillsides unable to trap rain. Major cities are shielded by flood dikes but small towns, especially in mountainous areas, are prey to deadly flash floods.

Flooding and landslides were blamed for 267 deaths, while another 82 people died in tornados, hailstorms and other disasters, Xinhua said.

China is expected to suffer from more typhoons than usual this year due to an unusually warm current off its Pacific and high temperatures over the Tibetan plateau, the report said.

In central and western China, new rains are forecast over the next 10 days, possibly ending a drought that is plaguing the area, the weather agency reportedly said.

Rains in Hubei and Henan provinces, important farming areas, have been up to 50 percent below normal, the report said.

Some 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of crops have been damaged, with losses estimated at 1 billion yuan (US$125 million; euro100 million), Xinhua said.

"The rainfall will ease the drought and hot weather in the area," the weather agency was quoted as saying.


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