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17,000 Houses Collapse,
200,000 Evacuated in
Flood-Hit China

Agence France-Presse 2sep03

BEIJING—Torrential rains and floods have destroyed 17,000 houses in China's Henan province while 200,000 more people have been evacuated in neighbouring Shaanxi, local officials and state press said Tuesday.

Heavy rain and hail have been pounding central China for days and devastated parts of Henan, said the China News Service, which reported that at least 10 people in the province had been killed.

"According to the civil affairs bureau, 14 million people have been affected, 10 are dead, 38,000 houses have been damaged and among them 17,000 houses have collapsed," the agency said of Henan.

Local officials in Shaanxi province said another 200,000 people have been evacuated to join more than 100,000 people who have already been moved to saftey from Hua County after 10,000 homes were destroyed by the wild weather.

"So far, 3.95 million people have been affected (in Shaanxi) by the floods, 38 have died and 34 are missing," an official surnmed Xu from the Shaanxi government disaster relief office told AFP.

Reports had previously put the death toll at 26.

"There's been a lot of mudslides and landslides. In Ningshan County, at least 67 landslides have happened in the past few days," said the official.

He said hundreds of thousands of people had been moved from the path of the flooding Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River.

"In Weinan city in the south of the province, 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes alone," he said.

"In mountainous Ningshan county, around 6,000 have been evacuated because of landslides."

The Xinhua news agency said over one million residents had been affected by the floods in Weinan city and 30,000 troops and militia had joined rescue efforts.

It said water levels on the Wei, which is experiencing its worst flood peak in 22 years, hit a record high of 342 meters (1,128 feet) above sea level on Monday when a second flood crest reached Hua County.

The river has burst its banks in at least five places along its tributaries, Xinhua said.

Over 50 rivers in the province have reported floods and water levels of 19 rivers have exceeded safety levels.

Fixed telephone lines, mobile communications, water and power supplies have been cut off sporadically across the province while a number of roads, bridges and power supply facilities have been destroyed, officials said.

Many schools have also been forced to shut.

Economic losses had so far reached two billion yuan (241 million US dollars) in Shananxi, according to the provincial flood control department.

Elsewhere in Shaanxi, 15 people are missing after a mudslide hit a remote mountain village in Xunyang county in the northwest of the province buring 14 homes, Xinhua said in a separate report.

There is little relief in sight with weather forecasters predicting more rain for most areas in Shaanxi in the coming three days.

Severe rain and flooding has blighted large parts of China this summer with the Red Cross saying late last month that about four million people are still homeless after floods ravaged 26 provinces in July.

source: http://www.terradaily.com/2003/030902104933.74905ire.html 2sep03

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