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Freak Rain Causes Deaths, Emergency Evacuations

Six people died and four were missing after rainstorms devastated part of south China's Guangdong Province and triggered the biggest flood of a river in nearly half a century, offcials said on Saturday.

From 7:00 PM on Friday to 7:00 AM on Saturday, 103 rainfall monitoring sites across the province reported precipitations of more than 100 millimeters, with the biggest of 269 mm in Duanfen Town in Jiangmen City, the Guangdong Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.

The deaths included four in Shenzhen and two in Shaoguan. The missing included two in Heyuan and one in Qingyuan and Shaoguan each, it said.

Some 100,000 residents in Lechang City were evacuated after the city seat was flooded by local swollen Wujiang River. The river's Lechang stretch saw a flood crest of 91.12 meters, 3.92 meters higher than the alert level at the zero hour on Saturday.

The river's water level has begun to fall slowly.

At 7:00 AM on Saturday, the Xijiang River in Guangdong also surpassed alert levels in many sections, according to the headquarters.

In Shenzhen, a heavy rainstorm on Friday caused transportation havoc. The city had more than 200 mm of rain, with up to 500 mm falling in Baoan District, according to its flood control authorities.

More than 300 locations in the city were submerged. Reservoirs had to open sluices to drop the water levels.

Traffic was restored on Saturday.

In Liuzhou City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, more than 50,000 residents were displaced after rainstorms moved into the area Thursday.

Nearly 800,000 people in Liuzhou were affected by floods, and 93 primary and middle schools had to suspend classes.

Wuzhou City in Guangxi activated a flood emergency response plan at noon on Saturday to prepare for flood crests in rivers upstream. A flood crest on the Guijiang River is forecast to reach Wuzhou City late Saturday.

Meanwhile, water in the Xijiang River's section in Wuzhou is rising by 15 cm per hour. The water level was likely to reach 25 m on Sunday afternoon and if it surpassed 26 m, the district would be seriously threatened.

The piers of several major bridges in downtown Wuzhou were completely submerged in river floodwater on Saturday. More than 4,000 people are on stand-by for emergency rescue operations in the city.

The autonomous region's communications department said 68 highways in the region were cut off by the rain disasters, although 40 re-opened to traffic after emergency repairs on Saturday.

(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2008)

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