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Extreme weather takes toll across nation
By Zheng Caixiong, Chang Tianle & Ma Lie (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-17 01:03

Residents in most regions of China experienced dramatic weather conditions on Friday.

Tropical storm Kompasu slammed into Hong Kong and Guangdong Province on Friday. Strong winds and heavy rainfall first struck the Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones at the mouth of the Pearl River at about 3 pm on Friday.

Continuous heavy rain hit Xi'an, the capital of northwest Shaanxi province, from Wednesday night, bringing an end to high temperatures, but also bringing disaster.

The heavy rain brought some 100 millimetres of precipitation to Xi'an and other parts of the province, killing three people and making road travel difficult, according to a rain and disaster report issued by the local government.

Meanwhile, Shanghai, which has just emerged from its one-month rainy season, has entered a period of prolonged heat with the mercury set to hit 38 C in the days to come, according to the Shanghai Central Meteorological Observatory.

Affected by Kompasu, many trees and outdoor advertisement boards were blown down and uprooted in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, which border Hong Kong and Macao respectively.

Ferry services between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao were suspended starting from 1 pm.

All fishing boats were required to return to typhoon shelters and other safe harbours on Friday, said an official with local anti-flood headquarters office.

And the residents, particularly the elderly, children and disabled people living in ramshackle houses in coastal areas have been transferred to safer locations.

Meanwhile all construction sites in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and other typhoon hit areas have been asked to cease construction to avoid accidents.

Transport services in Hong Kong were gradually being cut back, with Dragonair cancelling or rescheduling some flights.

To cope with the expected rush of people trying to get home, the Hong Kong metro and railway increased services, and buses still ran on schedule.

In the harbour, ferries between Tuen Mun and Tai O have already been halted, while those to the out-lying islands and inner-harbour services will be suspended later. Some Macao ferries have already been stopped.

The Transport Department advised the public to heed radio broadcasts on bus service arrangements during the typhoon as the level of bus services may vary according to demand or road and weather conditions.

Kompasu also affects major cities in the Pearl River Delta. The entire delta will have heavy rainfall over the entire weekend.

The heavy rainfall also caused a sharp rise in the Xijiang River, the major tributary of the Pearl River.

In Shaanxi, 83 of its 108 cities and counties suffered from heavy rain. Some cities, including Xi'an, witnessed the flooding of some urban areas.

The heavy rain flooded the storage room of the Xi'an Banpo Museum which houses the archaeological site of a neolithic village more than 6,000 years old, harming some of the ancient relics there, local official said.

And some local residents' houses in Xi'an were also badly affected by the heavy rain, with around 1,000 houses in the urban area of Xi'an being badly damaged, a local official said.

Since early this month, Xi'an and most part of Shaanxi Province had been suffering from high temperatures of 35 to 38 C, which the heavy rain has helped to bring down.

According to the weather forecast, Shaanxi will have rain until July 24, and the capital city Xi'an will be hit by heavy showers over the weekend. Local government has adopted measures to maintain order in urban areas and to fight against coming flood.

In a weather forecast report, the observatory predicted Shanghai would experience five to seven days of heat starting from Friday, with the highest temperatures reaching 36 to 38 C.

On Friday, the temperature climbed up to 36 C but it felt warmer under the midday sun.

A few people rested on benches at noon in People's Square, the city's popular meeting place. People searched for shade or sought out an ice cream or cool drink.

Last year the city also experienced a record-breaking warm summer, including a continuous 19 days of high temperatures.

Healthcare professionals also warn being exposed to high temperatures could lead to sickness.

Starting from this month, Shanghai Medical Rescue Centre's ambulances have dealt with 20 per cent more cases than usual and added 5 more ambulance to their fleet.

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