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Heavy Rains Wreak Havoc in Xinjiang

At least seven people were killed in mountain torrents caused by a heavy rainstorm on Wednesday morning in China's westernmost Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local government sources said.

The death toll might rise as more reports are expected from flood-stricken areas where communications were cut off, said an official with the regional disaster relief office.

About 3,900 hectares of cropland were inundated and more than 14,300 houses destroyed.

Many parts of Xinjiang experienced moderate to severe rainstorms between August 5 and 9.

The continuous rain might have been a relief to drought-stricken areas, but it caused major flooding in others. Ruoqiang County, an arid area in the Taklamakan Desert, recorded a precipitation of 53 mm in a single day, the highest since 1981.

The floods caused many rivers, like the Tarim and Ruoqiang rivers, to swell above warning levels.

In Turpan, rain that lasted 26 hours from August 6 to 7 unleashed a mountain torrent, resulting in the worst flood in the last 50 years.

The floods forced more than 230,000 people to flee their homes, of whom about 63,200 have been relocated. Relief supplies have been sent to the affected areas.

The local meteorological department warned that Xinjiang can expect more heavy rains and storms from Thursday to Saturday.

In Sichuan Province nine people were killed in floods. As of 6 PM Wednesday, four were injured and one missing, local government announced.
The flood-stricken areas include four counties in the cities of Panzhihua and Ziyang in the western and southern parts of the province, which were hit by rapid mountain torrents and mud-rock flows with more than 23,000 people affected, according to the provincial disaster relief office. 

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn August 11, 2005)

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