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Record storms kill 152 in China

BEIJING - Record rainfall this week triggered floods, landslides and mud flows that killed 152 people in China and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, state media reported Sunday.

Since the start of the annual rainy season in June, floods have hit nearly half of China's regions and killed at least 400 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Worst-hit this week was southern China's Yunnan province, where rain triggered floods and landslides from Wednesday to Saturday.

More than 4,000 houses were destroyed and 386,000 people evacuated, Xinhua said. It cited the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying that 59 people were killed in Yunnan, most of them caught in violent mud flows on Thursday.

Eastern China's Shandong province and the southwestern city of Chongqing were also badly hit, with rain inflicting severe damage to infrastructure, transportation and telecommunications, Xinhua said.

In Chongqing, 42 people died and 12 have been reported missing, it said. Another 300,000 people have been evacuated.

"The rainstorms' intensity and poor drainage systems are to blame," He Zhiqiang, chief of the technology department of Chongqing Municipal Facilities Bureau, was quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper Saturday.

Xinhua said earlier that 10 1/2 inches of rain fell between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon in Chongqing, the largest volume since records began in 1892. The previous record of 8.1 inches was set on July 1996, the reports said.

In Shandong, 40 people were killed and another nine were missing, Xinhua said. Some 112,600 were evacuated, it said.

Jinan, Shandong's capital and the worst-hit city, received up to 4.65 inches of rain in an hour during a storm on Wednesday.

According to Xinhua, officials at the Shandong Department of Water Resources said the rainstorm was the worst since 1916, when Jinan began to record such data.

In the far western Xinjiang region, torrential rainfall killed 11 people and injured more than 100, it said.

Summer is peak rainy season in China, where millions of people in the central and southern part of the country live on farmland in the flood plains of rivers.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people last year, according to the China Meteorological Administration. That was the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer flooding claimed 4,150 lives.

Also Sunday, Xinhua reported that the middle and lower reaches of the Huai River, China's third longest, are facing the danger of flooding after days of rain.

More than 1 million people have been evacuated in central China's Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces from the projected path of floodwaters along the Huai, which could suffer its worst flooding since 1954 if dams and flood walls break.

There have been no reports yet of death from rain or flood along the Huai.

"Dikes that have soaked in high water level for 19 days would be at an increased risk of breach in the coming 10 days," Xinuha said, citing officials with the flood control headquarters in the central province of Anhui.

More rain was forecast for Sunday, Xinhua said.


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