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Officials urge safety awareness following flood deaths

By Ma Lie in Xi'an | China Daily | Updated: 2015-08-06 07:39

The government of Chang'an district in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, urged local residents and tourists to be aware of safety issues in mountainous scenic spots.

Yang Jianqiang, who heads the district that's renowned for its mountains and scenery, made the remarks two days after nine tourists were swept away by a flash flood on Monday afternoon.

Flash flooding triggered by heavy rain hit the Xiaoyu scenic spot on Monday afternoon while tourists were in the area. The people swept away by the flood were having dinner in a simply constructed restaurant on the riverbank. All nine tourists were confirmed dead by Wednesday afternoon.

The ravines in Mount Qinling, only 20 kilometers from urban Xi'an, have a number of farmhouses devoted to rural-based tourism, or "agritainment". From April to October, urban residents flock to the Chang'an ravines to enjoy beautiful mountainous scenery, cooler and cleaner air and farm food.

Zhang Xinwu, director of Xiaoyu township, said rural-based tourism has attracted an increasing number of visitors, especially in the summer, and has provided some local farm families an annual income of over 200,000 yuan ($32,200).

In order to attract more tourists and help them keep cool, many farmhouse owners put dinner tables and deck chairs on the riverbank, which is usually gentle and quiet.

"In the 54 years I've lived here, I've never seen such terrible flooding as I have now," said Xie Conglin, a farmer at the scenic spot.

Other villagers said the riverbank, with its clean and shallow water, has been popular with tourists.

Zhou Yuanwu, deputy director of the district's water bureau, said, "Although we put a number of large billboards warning people not to go into the water, the tourists did not pay enough attention to the risk of flooding and required farmhouse owners to serve dinner on the riverbank."


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