Over 100 Dead or Missing after Floods Devastate NE China
    2010-08-01 15:30:13     Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhao

Floods and rain-triggered landslides have left more than 100 people dead or missing in northeast China's Jilin Province over the past few days, provincial civil affairs officials said Sunday.

Additionally, about 37,000 houses have collapsed and 125,000 others have been damaged while 592,000 residents have been evacuated, the provincial civil affairs department said in its latest disaster update, adding that economic losses due to natural disasters since June have reached 9.15 billion yuan.

On Wednesday, torrential rains pounded large parts of Jilin, the latest Chinese province to be racked by flooding.

In the hardest-hit areas, flash floods cut roads, isolated villages and disrupted communications and water supplies, while the province's major reservoirs swelled to critical levels and rushing waters carried off heavy ships and thousands of chemical-filled barrels were washed down the Songhua River.

"The flood is unprecedented. Its devastation is appalling," said Sun Jingyuan, a top official in Antu County, Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Yanbian, in southeast Jilin.

Also, a flood washed away 70 houses in a village in Antu while 570 families were forced to leave their homes in a mountain valley after the area was submerged under 20-meter-deep floodwaters.

Further, soldiers managed to reach the isolated town of Liangjiang Saturday night and helped 10,000 residents evacuate, Sun said.

He said the economic losses in Antu, as of Sunday, have topped 800 million yuan, equivalent to 5.7 times the county government's revenue last year.

However, the catastrophes are not over yet, officials fear.

Weather authorities' forecasts say heavy rains would continue to fall until Aug. 4.

On Sunday, seven of 18 large dams in the province had water levels exceeding their danger levels, the provincial flood control authorities said. Rainstorms pounded Baishan City and Tonghua City Sunday, with rainfall in the worst-affected areas measuring 66 millimeters.

Soldiers and emergency workers wrapped up a four-day race to intercept thousands of chemical barrels that tumbled into the Songhua River after floods destroyed two chemical factory warehouses in Jilin City, Jilin Province on Wednesday.

Workers had retrieved 6,387 barrels - some filled with 170 kilograms of colorless and highly explosive liquids - by 4 p.m. Sunday and are on track to recover 684 others stuck in the mud-filled surrounding areas.

Spilled chemicals were found in parts of the river, but tests show that the water of Songhua River, a major drinking source for million in the region remains safe, officials said.

Tao Detian, the spokesman for the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said on Sunday that the river's water quality remains "within a normal range."

Earlier, an army officer drowned while working to block the barrels, bringing to three the number of military casualties in Jilin's flood battles.

Thousands of soldiers and residents of Jilin mourned the fallen soldiers on Sunday, the country's annual Army Day designated to mark the founding of the People's Liberation Army in 1927.

Floods have ravaged large parts of China since July, raising the 2010 casualty figures from natural disasters to 991 deaths and 558 missing as of Friday, according to figures released by the central government.

In China's western-most Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, recent downpours and melted snow pushed water levels in the region's 13 key rivers over the danger lines.

After a one-day delay due to adverse weather, helicopters on Sunday delivered relief goods to the hardest-hit mountainous areas in Aksu Prefecture and rescued about 118 out of one thousand people trapped there.

Roads were cut off and bridges destroyed in the floods.

Torrential rains previously hit large swaths of central and southern China, swelling the Yangtze River - the country's longest waterway - and some of its tributaries.

Peaking flood waters by-passed the Three Gorges Dam and the mega-city of Wuhan and water levels have begun to drop as weather improves.

The National Meteorological Center forecast Sunday that rains would mainly fall in the northeast and north parts of China during the next 24 hours.



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