The death toll from heavy rain and mountain torrents in central-south China's Hunan Province rose to 96 as of Wednesday, with 88 people still missing, said sources from the provincial government.
Eight people were found killed in a new round of rain-triggered floods that hit the cities of Yiyang and Shaoyang from Sunday to Tuesday and five new people are unaccounted for.
The first round of heavy rains caused torrential flooding in parts of Hunan from May 31 to June 1, killing 88 people and leaving 33 others missing.
Electric power supplies, traffic and telecommunications have been completely shut down in the inundated regions. Rescue and disaster-relief efforts are underway to minimize the damage and fight future floods, local flood control departments said.
During the past week, floods and landslides have left more than 130 dead and affected 15 million across central and south China, and the damage is still being tallied.
In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, at least one person was killed as heavy rains pounded 23 counties from 8 AM Tuesday to 8 AM Wednesday, forcing more than 14,000 locals to be evacuated. Parts of Nanning and Guilin cities were under 80 centimeters of water after 200 millimeters of rain fell on the region.
The Guangxi Regional Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said the number of victims was around 370,000 and the direct economic loss 157.9 million yuan (US$19 million).
The local meteorological station forecast heavy rain in most areas of Guangxi from Wednesday night to Thursday. All government departments in Guangxi were required to prepare for more flooding.
Areas devastated by this year's natural disasters are to receive about 80 million yuan (US$9.6 million) in emergency funding from the central government, the Ministry of Finance confirmed yesterday.
By yesterday, the rivers of Zishui and Xiangjiang in Hunan and Beiliu in Guangxi had started receding.
Although the country's major water-swollen rivers were flowing normally, the flood and drought relief headquarters urged authorities to brace themselves for potential flash floods along big rivers like the Yangtze, which caused havoc in east China during the summer of 1998 following torrential rains.
In the next three days, there will be more downpours in Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, meteorologists predicted.
Thundershowers are forecast for parts of north and northeast China with possible hailstorms. The second hailstorm in a week hit Beijing on Tuesday night with hailstones as big as ping-pong balls.
In northeast China, provincial governments are on alert for floods. Zhang Zuoji, governor of Heilongjiang Province, has told officials to be well prepared for floods forecast for the Songhua River valley.
Early last Saturday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs confirmed a countrywide death toll from the rainstorms and floods of 204, with a further 79 missing. An updated national figure is not yet available.
(Xinhua News Agency June 9, 2005)