Torrential rains affect millions in China

Updated: 2008-06-11 22:10

HANGZHOU - Torrential rains continued to lash China on Wednesday, affecting at least 2 million people, disrupting traffic and threatening reservoir safety.

A woman walks past a sculpture in the rain in Hangzhou City, East China's Zhejiang Province, June 10, 2008. [Xinhua] 

More than 4,000 rooms collapsed as the heavy rains hit the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi and the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

In Zhejiang, the rain affected more than 930,000 people and more than 70,000 hectares of crops, halting production at 286 factories and forcing the closure of 115 roads, local officials said.

Water levels in at least five reservoirs in the province had risen above warning levels as of 5 am Wednesday.

Preliminary estimates put the losses at 860 million yuan (US$124 million).

Meteorological authorities in Zhejiang said the region would face more heavy rains in two days and warned local government officials of possible flood dangers.

In Guangxi, where one person was killed and around 920,000 were affected, the heavy rain brought down more than 1,000 rooms, affected 40,000 hectares of crops, forced the closure of 149 roads and damaged 20 reservoirs. Damage to power lines and irrigation facilities was also reported.

Heavy rains were expected to begin on Friday, posing pressure to flood control in Wuzhou, a city near Guangxi's border with Guangdong Province. The city was ravaged by the worst flooding in 100 years in 2005.

The water level at the Wuzhou section of the Xijiang River was only 1.4 m below the warning level of 18.5 m as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and was rising by 0.1 m per hour, local officials said.

Land and resources authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region had ordered closer monitoring and timely reporting to prevent geological disasters as the region had entered the main flood season.

In the eastern Jiangxi Province, precipitation exceeded 300 mm in three counties and 200 mm in another 43 in just three days, and seven small reservoirs were at risk.

The Raohe River, one the five major rivers in Jiangxi, saw the largest flood in a decade. Water levels at the Dufengkang and Hushan hydrometric stations on the river's tributaries were more than 3m above the warning levels.

Some low-lying areas in Nanchang, the provincial capital, and Jingdezhen were flooded, with the maximum water depth reaching 5.4 m.

More than 2,300 houses collapsed and 2.05 million people were affected, 47,000 of whom were evacuated.

A notice issued Tuesday by the Nanchang education department instructed all schools in the city to close if necessary to ensure the safety of the teachers and students.

The water level in the Anhui Province section of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway, has continued to rise due to the heavy rain in the region, but authorities said the flood risk was low because the water level was one to two meters lower than the same period last year.

The National Meteorological Center is forecasting that the rain will sweep across provinces and municipalities, including Jiangsu, the quake-hit Sichuan, Hunan, Anhui, Zhejiang and Shanghai in the next few days.

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