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14 hikers killed as flash flood swamps gorge

FOURTEEN hikers were killed and five are missing after they were swept away by a flash flood in a gorge in the southwestern city of Chongqing.

Torrential rain also led to the deaths of three people with searches under way for 10 people missing in other areas including Sichuan and Hunan provinces.

Rescuers searching for the hikers found seven more bodies yesterday afternoon on the lower reaches of a flood-formed river in the Tanzhangxia Canyon scenic spot in Chongqing's Wanzhou District, bringing the death toll to 14, the rescue headquarters said.

Sixteen of the 35-member expedition have been rescued. Five are in hospital for minor injuries, the rest are recovering at a hotel.

More than 1,900 police officers, soldiers, medical staff and local residents were searching for the five missing tourists.

The group entered a forbidden area of the canyon on Saturday afternoon under the guidance of a local resident. However, a downpour triggered mountain torrents and swept away most of the tourists at about 3pm.

"I heard a roaring sound while walking at the bottom of the gorge. Suddenly the flood, up to several meters high, crushed upon us and swept us several kilometers away," said Deng Ke, one of the survivors.

Rain-triggered mud flows left two people dead in Chongqing's Kaixian County and four missing in Yunyang County.

Continuous rain began to pelt northeastern Chongqing at about 8pm last Thursday, affecting 151,600 people in 106 townships and forcing at least 3,880 people to evacuate.

Power plant

In central China's Hunan Province, one person has died and four others are missing.

Torrential rain gushed into a hydropower plant in Liuyang City at 4:30pm on Saturday, trapping five workers.

Rescuers found one body yesterday and were searching for the missing four.

At least two people were missing and more than 100,000 others displaced after rainstorms in Chongqing's neighboring Sichuan Province, the local government said.

Two young men were swept away by mountain torrents at about 9am on Saturday while passing a makeshift bridge in Xuanhan County of Dazhou City.

About 102,000 people in the area have been evacuated or relocated to safe places in the city, where the continuous downpour has destroyed 8,582 houses and damaged another 11,782.


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