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Heavy rain hits central China, at least 2 dead
Updated: 2009-06-09 18:18

CHANGSHA - Two people have been killed by collapsed roofs and two others remain missing from heavy rains that have been falling in China's Hunan Province since Sunday, official sources said Tuesday.

Figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed that nearly 1.7 million people in six cities and prefectures of Hunan, including Shaoyang, Zhangjiajie, Huaihua, Yueyang, Changde and Xiangxi, were affected by the storm.

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Some counties in those areas told residents to evacuate before the rains hit. The two people who were killed returned to their homes to collect belongings when the roofs collapsed on them.

The ministry said 112,700 people had been evacuated to higher land for safety concerns. It sent a team Tuesday afternoon to Hunan to help with relief work and launched a grade IV emergency response, which means a 24-hour alert, daily damage reports, and the sending of money and relief material within 48 hours.

According to the ministry, as of 1:30 p.m., 7,086 rooms had collapsed and 18,600 were damaged. Around 6,765 hectares of crops were destroyed and unable to yield fruits or vegetables. Direct economic losses were estimated at 1.537 billion yuan (US$224.9 million).

Suining County in Shaoyang, which received 228.3 mm of rainfall during the past two days, was the worst hit. Two people were swept away by floods and are missing.

A total of 67,000 people in Suining are staying with relatives and friends until waters recede.

The provincial hydrological bureau said its Hongyan station in Suining received more than 200 mm of rainfall and 10 other stations received more than 100 mm each during the past two days.

The provincial meteorological bureau warned heavy rain was likely to continue in southern parts of the province, which may trigger more flooding and landslides.