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At least 20 die in rain, floods

TORRENTIAL rain and flooding in southern China have left at least 20 people dead and five missing.

More than 670,000 people have been relocated as downpours have destroyed houses, flooded crops, cut power, damaged roads and caused rivers to overflow, according to the latest figures from the provinces of Hunan, Fujian, Jiangxi and Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

In Hunan, eight died and 140,000 were forced out of their homes, according to the provincial flood control office.

In Fujian, five died and two are missing.

In Jiangxi, three people who were previously reported as missing have been confirmed dead, bringing the province's death toll to five. About 230,000 people had to flee their homes.

In Guangdong, two construction workers were killed by a collapsed wall, while in Guangxi, 285,800 people were relocated.

The flood control headquarters in Jiangxi said last night that crops on 200,000 hectares of farmland had been damaged and thousands of homes toppled. Direct economic losses were estimated at 3.13 billion yuan (US$458.14 million).

Jiangxi's Chongyi and Dayu counties witnessed their worst rainstorms and flooding in history. Flood water was 2 meters deep in the county seat of Dayu.

In Guangxi's Rongshui County, 62 schools were flooded, and about 300 students trapped in a boarding school.

An official with the county education bureau, Luo Enwu, said yesterday that local authorities had managed to send drinking water and food to them and restore power supplies.

In Guangxi's Luocheng area, many thousands of residents, including 2,800 students, living downstream from the Kama reservoir dam, had been moved to safety as a 13.5-meter section of a dyke near the dam breached.

Workers yesterday dug two sluices, each 15 meters wide and 10 meters deep, on the dam to discharge flood water.

Chen Zhangliang, vice chairman of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said the danger was expected to be over within a few days after the efforts.

The strong rain began to subside yesterday in parts of Guangxi, such as Guilin and Liuzhou cities, but local authorities are warning of possible flooding as river levels remain high. Eight more counties in Guangxi were hit by rain yesterday, the regional civil affairs department said.

As of midday yesterday, 3,600 homes in Guangxi had been toppled and crops on 103,400 hectares damaged.


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