Flood toll nears 100, no let-up in sight

Updated: 2007-07-09 14:00

BEIJING - Torrential rains battered large swathes of China on Monday after killing 94 people and displacing more than half a million over the past week, Chinese media said.

Floods and landslides have left at least 25 people missing, ruined crops, destroyed 49,000 houses and caused economic losses of 3.8 billion yuan ($500 million) in seven provinces, the People's Daily said.

Downpours in the central province of Henan and the eastern provinces of Anhui and Jiangsu have left the huge Huai River overflowing at alarming levels, the newspaper said.

More than 326,000 people had been mobilised to check embankments along the river, where water was still rising on Monday and a flood peak was expected on Tuesday, media said.

Thousands of soldiers had been helping evacuate residents in the region, where streets of several cities were under water.

Over the weekend, Jiangsu's provincial capital, Nanjing, suffered 258 mm (10 inches) of rain, flooding streets and knocking out power, Xinhua news agency said.

No casualties had been reported in the Huai River region so far, but about 30 people have been killed since July 2 in the southwestern province of Sichuan, which was battered by rainstorms in June.

Television showed pictures of wood-and-brick houses in Sichuan disintegrating within a matter of seconds.

"Some houses were flowing down the river like boats. I saw one quickly collapse into the water after its front was turned around," Chinese television quoted a local resident as saying.

Rainstorms have also wrought havoc in parts of the normally dry province of Shaanxi in the northwest.

More heavy rains are forecast for more than 10 Chinese provinces on Monday, while Sichuan, Anhui and Jiangsu would remain the worst hit, the National Meteorological Centre forecast on its Web site (www.nmc.gov.cn).

China's flood season, usually from May to October, is notoriously deadly. In June, 309 people died in natural disasters, mostly rainstorms.

Authorities have warned that two to three typhoons or tropical storms could hit in July and were expected to bring more damage to the southeast.

A first typhoon of the season was headed for Taiwan and could reach the island in about five days, the island's weather department said.

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