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Rainstorms Kill 12, Affect Millions in S China

A dozen people were killed and millions were affected as rainstorms continued to lash south China over the past two days, local authorities said on Friday.

Torrential rains also destroyed more than 10,000 houses, disrupted traffic and caused landslides in the provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei and Anhui, Guangdong, as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Precipitation exceeded 300 mm in several counties and 250 mm in more than 20 during the last two days in Guangxi and Hunan.

Five people were killed in landslides and house collapses in Guangxi. More than 1.58 million were affected as of Friday morning.

About 40 trains were delayed on Friday due to rain in Guangxi. Trains had to go slowly along major sections of track in Liuzhou, Guilin and Hechi.

Parts of the regional No. 202 and No. 318 highways were blocked by landslides, causing a loss of more than 25 million yuan (US$3.6 million).

Navigation on the picturesque Lijiang River in scenic Guilin City had to be suspended because of a lengthy downpour, the local marine affairs administration said. Travel agencies issued emergency refunds to tourists who had signed up for boat trips.

The water level at the Wuzhou section of the Xijiang River surpassed the warning level of 18.5 m on Friday morning, and the level continued to rise by 0.1 m per hour. It was expected to reach 22 m by 8:00 AM on Saturday.

Wuzhou, a city near Guangxi's border with Guangdong Province, was ravaged by the worst flooding in 100 years in 2005.

The rain was expected to move eastward and weaken since Friday afternoon.

In neighboring Hunan, the worst-hit province in the severe winter this year, more than 50,000 people were evacuated in Yongzhou City as rain hit several counties. Jianghua County, where water depths reached 5 m, started the first class response on Friday.

Flood-prevention activities were undertaken in cities along the Xiangjiang River, a major tributary of the Yangtze River, as its water level would surpass the warning level in the coming days, according to a flood prevention conference on Friday.

Losses in Anhui were estimated at nearly 1 billion yuan as the rain affected more than 930,000 people and more than 70,000 hectares of crops.

The provincial department of civil affairs started to send tents to the most seriously affected counties of Xiuning and Shexian.

In eastern Jiangxi Province, a rainstorm-triggered landslide killed a woman in Shangyou County. Rainstorms hit 61 counties in the province, with Chongyi County Hydrological Station recording the largest 24-hour rainfall total of 191 mm.

A storm in the southern city of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, killed six on Friday, as bad weather continued to rage in the region. Four died after their houses collapsed in the morning while a couple selling fruit were electrocuted, officials said.

The rainstorm cut traffic, delayed airlines and caused landslides in the city neighboring Hong Kong.

The Guangdong Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters upgraded th fourth-grade emergency response to third-grade as the rainstorm hit the major rivers in the province.

At 6:00 PM on Friday, the water level of Beijiang River at Yingde station was 28.46 meters, 2.46 meters more than the alert level. The water level of Wujiang River at Lechang station was 90.77 meters, 3.57 meters more than the alert level. The water level of Lianjiang River at Lianxian station was 93.81 meters, 2.81 meters higher than the alert level.

More than 533 hectares of crops were inundated and 33 houses collapsed in Lechang City. The No. 247, No. 248 provincial highways were blocked by landslides. About 30 reservoirs and 28 hydropower stations were damaged. More than 38,000 people were relocated in the city, according to the Lechang city government.

The power authority central Hubei Province announced on Friday an alert situation for local power grid and the Huanglongtan Hydropower Plant against floods. About 4,000 electricians were on stand-by to fix power facilities if affected by the rainstorms.

Storms were expected to hit quake-battered Sichuan Province on Friday night and Saturday morning, according to the provincial meteorological bureau.

Relevant departments were warned of mud-and-rock flows and landslides that could be triggered by strong rains.

(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2008)

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