Continued rainstorms, floods and landslides have killed at least 45 people and affected millions in southern China in recent days.
Disaster relief headquarters for Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region said on Wednesday that 24 people there have been confirmed dead and 23 others missing. Economic losses of 1.67 billion yuan (US$2.01 billion) have been suffered, 328,000 hectares of crops damaged, 20,000 houses destroyed and another 50,000 damaged.
The provincial government of Guangdong said torrential rains since June 18 have led to nine deaths and affected a population of 540,000. In Fujian Province, the death toll from floods and landslides has risen to 12 while five others are still missing.
Rainstorms caused the collapse of the Longchuan-Huizhou part of the Beijing-Kowloon railway line in eastern Guangdong, leaving dozens of trains delayed or cancelled. By press time, local rescuers were rushing to repair the track in spite of the rain.
Water levels in rivers running through Guangxi and Guangdong have also surpassed flood warning thresholds.
At Wuzhou Hydrographic Station on the Xijiang, in Guangdong near the Guangxi border, levels reached 23.56 meters by 5 PM on Tuesday, 6.26 meters higher than the threshold. Guangxi's hydrology bureau said the water at Wuxuan on the Qianjiang reached 62.12 meters at the same time, 7.12 meters higher than danger levels, whilst that at Dahuangjiangkou on the Xunjiang reached 35.97 meters, 6.97 meters higher.
Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu yesterday urged governments at all levels to identify tasks, improve emergency plans and enforce prediction and monitoring of floods.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also sent a notice calling for a close watch on weather and flood changes, and enforcement on flood defense works to make sure all dams and reservoirs can avoid disaster.
Despite of torrential rains in the south, a heat wave gripped 13 provinces and regions across the country yesterday with the mercury hitting 42 degrees Celsius in some parts, according to meteorological officials.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, June 22, 2005)