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July 31, 2009

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National death figure hits 307

RAINSTORMS in China this year have left 307 people dead and 113 missing as of yesterday, according to the country's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

The severe weather also damaged about 260,000 houses and flooded 5.33 million hectares of farmland. Direct economic losses hit 46.5 billion yuan (US$6.8 billion), said a statement from the headquarters.

Zhang Zhitong, deputy director of the office of the headquarters, said in the statement that the nation had prepared for frequent rain and storms since April 1, which cause floods, landslides and mud-rock flows, especially in the southern regions.

Heavy rain since July 24 had killed 70 and left 51 missing in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Yunnan, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Chongqing Municipality.

He said about 130 rivers nationwide saw water levels rise above their warning lines.

The statement said the situation was still severe as water levels at Taihu Lake, spanning Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, reached 3.66 meters as of 4pm yesterday, 0.16 meters higher than the warning line.

Moderate and heavy rain is expected to sweep Jiangsu and Zhejiang over the next two days, the headquarters warned, urging local authorities to strengthen preparations against possible flooding.

In Sichuan, landslides triggered by rainstorms killed 46 people and left dozens missing, said Wei Hong, deputy governor of the province.

The death toll from the landslide in Kangding County on July 23 had risen to 12 with 42 still missing, Wei said.

In Jiangxi Province, heavy rain forced the relocation of 17,500 people and floods destroyed 180 homes.

The rain had caused an estimated 342 million yuan in economic losses, the Jiangxi provincial government announced on Wednesday.

Officials from the Guangxi's department of land resources have identified 1,868 high-risk sites where landslides pose threats to 190,000 people and 1.5 billion yuan worth of property.

Landslides have killed 17 people in Hunan Province.


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