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S China on Alert for Heavy Rain

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) on Saturday morning launched a level-three emergency response to cope with expected rainstorms in southern provinces.

According to the latest forecast, most parts of south China would be swept by heavy rains over the next five days when cold and warm currents meet. Some regions would embrace torrential rains accompanied with strong gales and thunderstorms.

Local meteorological centers in Chongqing, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi and Guangxi and departments such as the emergency response office and the monitoring office with the NMC, had been asked to have staff work 24 hours a day in shifts.

They are expected to closely monitor possible weather-triggered disasters like flash floods and landslides and give early warnings with updates on forecasts.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters raised its emergency level on Friday from level-three to level-two to caution against possible flooding coming along with the rainstorms.

Reports said rare torrential rain had brought chaos in Hong Kong on Saturday morning. The sky was blackened, and rain with occasional flashes also forced the closure of schools and hospitals, submerged vehicles and widely disrupted traffic in the city.

InGuangdong Province, the cities of Yangjiang and Jiangmen were hit by extreme rainstorms rarely seen in almost five decades on Friday and Saturday, with three students reported missing and large areas of crops damaged.

Torrential rains also forced Shenzhen International Airport to cancel 12 flights on Friday, while more than 150 flights were delayed.

Yichang City in Hubei Province embraced thunderstorms on Friday, and many parts of the city suffered a blackout. No casualties had been reported.

Precipitation in the region would reach 60 mm to 100 mm, or even 150 mm to 200 mm in several parts, on Saturday night and Sunday.

Late last month when the country's southern provinces were hit by torrential rains, 64 people were killed.

(Xinhua News Agency June 7, 2008)

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