21 dead, 37 missing in SW.China floods

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Rain-triggered floods have left 21 people dead and 32 missing in southwest China's Guizhou Province and five missing in eastern Jiangxi Province.

Floodwater rushes through the Wangmo county, Southwest China's Guizhou province, June 6, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]

Floodwater rushes through the Wangmo county, Southwest China's Guizhou province, June 6, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua] 

The 21 deaths were reported in the worst-affected Wangmo county, where 31 people remained missing, Nong Wenhai, a deputy governor of Wangmo, told a press briefing on Tuesday evening.

The number of missing fell from earlier reported 52 as the death toll rose by seven and 14 were confirmed alive as they either visited relatives or worked in cities as migrants and therefore were not at home at the time of the flooding, Nong said.

Another person was reported missing in Luodian county.

The floods have forced about 45,400 residents of Wangmo County to evacuate and caused a direct economic loss of 1.34 billion yuan (207 million U.S. dollars), the official said.

The floods toppled 801 homes, damaged further 4,813 homes and affected 13,000 hectares of crops and vegetables in Wangmo, he said.

Flood waters inundated the county seat on Monday, disrupting power and water supplies and telecommunication services in several towns. The flooding also damaged roads, bridges, dikes, irrigation facilities and hydropower stations.

About 6,000 students from four schools had to stay home Tuesday, as their schools were rendered inaccessible by the flood waters, said the county's education chief Yuan Tie.

Cao Zeying, principal of the county's No. 2 Primary School, said that the flood destroyed the school's 300-meter-long enclosure and submerged several classrooms on the first floor.

"Flood waters on campus measured 1.6 meters deep on Monday," Cao said.

Rain-triggered floods have so far hit 14 cities and counties across Guizhou Province, affecting at least 400,000 people, the provincial civil affairs bureau said.

The local weather bureau said the first round of continuous downpours began on June 3.

As of Monday, precipitation topped 100 mm in 16 of the province's counties. Another 31 counties received 55 to 100 mm of rainfall, the bureau said.

The weather bureau predicts the rainy weather will last until Thursday.

Heavy rain has pelted several other southern provinces during the past few days.

In Hunan Province, torrential rains have caused landslides and forced the shutdown of a major state road that won't be reopened until Thursday, according to the provincial weather station.

Heavy rainfall since Friday has relieved the lingering drought in the central and northern part of the province but also caused floods and damaged crops in some areas.

The station forecast that a new round of rainfall will hit Hunan on Thursday and warned of landslides and mountain torrents.

In the neighboring province of Jiangxi, downpours caused the collapse of a three-floor riverside house Tuesday morning in the town of Wencheng, leaving five family members unaccounted for, said a spokesman with the government information office in Yushan county, which administers Wencheng.

In the city of Fengcheng in Jiangxi, authorities have ordered to repair a flooding-damaged 22-year-old dam to ensure the safety of a million residents downstream.

The water level in the dam was at 26.3 meters, 1.33 meters higher than the warning level, the city government said.

The National Meteorological Center said in a statement Tuesday that rains would continue in the drought-afflicted middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River next week, which may lead to flooding in the region.

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