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Floods Leave 16 Dead, 4 Missing

Floods of the Yellow River's biggest tributary of Weihe and Yangtze River's biggest tributary of Hanjiang have left 16 dead and four others missing, local officials said Wednesday.


According to the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Civil Affairs, the floods and mud slides they triggered have affected 4.61 million local residents, destroying 79,800 hectares of crops and pulling down 39,200 houses, with direct economic losses estimated at 1.94 billion yuan (US$239 million) in the province.


The flood also damaged railway, highway, cable lines and irrigation infrastructures.


A total of 359,200 people have been evacuated, the bureau said.


Continued heavy rains from September 24 to October 2 caused the biggest flood in 10 years along the lower reaches of the Weihe River.


The peak on Tuesday at Huaxian County's observation station along the Weihe River was 4,820 cubic meters per second.


The Xiaolangdi Reservoir, a major water conservancy and irrigation facility on the Yellow River, has been used since Sunday to conserve floodwater. Industry insiders were optimistic about flood prevention for the lower reaches of the river.


Weather forecasters said the rain will stop in southern parts of Shaanxi and western parts of central China's Henan Province, where the Yellow River passes through.


Meanwhile, a lot of water in the Hanjiang River is adding to its middle and lower reaches so water levels keep rising, according to the Hubei Provincial Flood Control Headquarters.


Compared with previous floods, high water level volume has continued for longer, sources said.


There was still the possibility of flooding along Hanjiang yesterday, according to Luo Qingquan, governor of Hubei Province.


Luo urged localities there to keep a close eye on water levels and take necessary measures such as sending adequate manpower to patrol riverbanks during the autumn flood season, Xinhua reported yesterday.


By 8 AM yesterday, the water levels monitored at Huangzhuang, Xiantao and Hanchuan hydrological stations rose, respectively, to 47.02, 33.75 and 28.2 meters, up by 1.02, 3.08 and 2.81 meters from Tuesday.


The water level at the Xiangyang station was 67.19 meters, a drop of 0.07 meters from Tuesday, but still 0.19 meters above the danger line. And the water level at Yicheng station was 57.95 meters, 0.45 meters higher than the danger line.


Hanjiang originates from Shaanxi Province. It flows southeastwardly through the central part of Hubei and joins the mighty Yangtze River at Wuhan, capital of Hubei.


(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily October 6, 2005)


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