Floods hit NE China border city, 64,000 evacuated

Updated: 2010-08-22 09:09
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Floods hit NE China border city, 64,000 evacuated
A view of the rising waters of the Yalu River near the Chinese border city of Dandong, Liaoning province August 21, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

DANDONG, Liaoning - Four people are dead, one is missing and more than 64,000 others were forced to evacuate their homes Saturday after the swollen Yalu River, which marks the border with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), flooded Dandong City in northeast China's Liaoning Province, the city government said.

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Flood waters breached the city's first dike - which lies between the Yalu River and an economic development zone - and stormed into the first floor of riverside buildings, according to a statement issued by the city government Saturday.

Xinhua reporters Saturday saw that sand bags were piled in front of doors of the riverside buildings to stop more flood waters from entering the buildings.

Workers were racing to build a sand bag flood barrier along part of the river where the barriers had been breached.

The downtown area of Dandong was not affected, as another dike, two meters in height, stood between the development zone and the downtown area as authorities blocked all gates on the second dike walls.

The flooding caused 230 houses to collapse and cut transportation, communications and power supplies in some areas of the city, forcing more than 64,000 residents to evacuate their homes as of Saturday night.

Torrential rains started to pound Liaoning Province Thursday at midnight and lasted for nearly three days until subsiding at 2 pm Saturday, with precipitation of as much as 651 mm in the worst- hit region, though in most parts of the Yalu River basin the precipitation ranged from 200 mm to 400 mm, said Wang Dianwu, director of the city's hydrographic bureau.

Besides the enormous rainfall, a reservoir under repair in the upper reaches of the Yalu River also intensified the flood relief pressure in the lower reaches, as the reservoir could not function, he said.

In the worst-hit Kuandian County, about 100 km northeast to Dandong's city seat, a couple in their 70s and a mother and a son were killed after flash floods swept away their houses, said a spokesman with the county's flood control office.

Also in Kuandian County, a 60-year-old man is missing after his house collapsed in a rain-triggered landslide.

"This is the first time in my life that I saw flooding as serious as this," said 67-year-old villager Rong Shuzhen.

"The heavy rain in the year of 1960 was pretty strong, but not as strong as this one. Floods rushed into our house last night, and all of our stuff was soaked in water," she added.

A rescue team from the Ministry of Transport Saturday sent a helicopter to rescue 80 villagers stranded in Dongdianzi Village of the Kuandian County.

As of 1:20 pm, 29 of the stranded villagers had been rescued.

Meanwhile, rescuers are trying to reach nearly 1,200 people stranded in the county's more than 40 villages that were isolated by floodwaters.

However, flooding has not yet cut road and rail transport between China and the DPRK. Xinhua reporters Saturday saw vehicles running on the roads linking China to the DPRK.

However, train service between the provincial capital Shenyang and Dandong were suspended at 4 am Saturday as floodwaters inundated railroad tracks, a Shenyang Railway Bureau spokesman said.

Further, the situation may worsen as rains are expected to continue to pelt the Dandong region until Monday morning, according to officials in the provincial flood relief headquarters.

China has been suffering from a string of rain-triggered disasters recently as the country battles its worst floods in at least a decade.

In the southwestern province of Yunnan, 23 people were killed and 69 remain missing after mudslides hit a remote mountain town Wednesday.

Earlier this week, rain-triggered mudslides killed 18 people and injured nine others, and four remain missing in Wenchuan and Qingchuan counties in southwest China's Sichuan - which was devastated by the 2008 earthquake.

In the northwestern province of Gansu, at least 1,434 people were killed and another 331 are reported missing after mudslides hit Zhouqu County nearly two weeks ago.

On Thursday, two train carriages plunged into a river after floods destroyed a bridge on a railway line in Sichuan Province.

However, no casualties were reported as all passengers had been ordered off the train before it derailed.