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Floods Kill at Least 7 School Children in S China

At least seven schoolchildren are among 10 people killed on Monday in floods caused by torrential rains in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Two other schoolchildren are missing after being swept away in flood waters, the regional bureau of education announced on Wednesday.

The fatalities occurred in the cities of Wuzhou, Yulin, Hezhou and Yizhou, driving up the flood death toll in Guangxi to 24, said bureau spokesman Li Qingxian on Wednesday.

Four students at the junior middle school of Liupu Town of Cangwu County, Wuzhou City, were killed and eight injured when a 3-meter-high wall built near the school canteen collapsed around 6 p.m. on Monday following days of rain. The injured are being treated in hospital.

Five pupils from Daguan Primary School in Shahe Township, Bobai, Yulin City, were swept away while passing through a swelling river on their way home late on Monday. Villagers had found bodies of three of the pupils by 5:00 PM on Tuesday.

No information about the other three deaths -- one in Wuzhou, one in Hezhou and one in Yizhou -- was immediately available, said Li.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said rainstorms and floods had killed 63 people, with 13 others missing in nine provinces and regions as of Monday. A total of 1.66 million people had been relocated.

The rain destroyed 67,000 houses, damaged 1.02 million hectares of crops and caused 14.45 billion yuan worth of damage.

Rainstorms and floods had ravaged the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Yunnan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region since June 6. Guangxi, Guangdong, Hunan and Jiangxi were the worst hit, the ministry said.

In Guangxi, the floods have damaged 505 highways, destroyed 418 school buildings, and forced the closures of 1,134 out of the 3,000 schools affected by the floods, said Li.

The ministries of civil affairs and finance on Tuesday allocated 95 million yuan to Guangxi and Jiangxi for a disaster relief fund.

The Central Meteorological Observatory on Wednesday forecast continued heavy rain in nine regions, with torrential rains, thunder storms, strong winds, or hail in parts of Guangxi, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

(Xinhua News Agency June 18, 2008)

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