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Villagers Face Heat and Rain in Anhui
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Residents who have had to endure days of torrential rain earlier this month are today suffering from the heat.

The highest temperature at Yingshang, a major town in Fuyang, northwestern Anhui Province, topped 36 C yesterday.

The scorching heat has brought little comfort for farmers who earlier had to deal with floods.

But they still prefer the heat than the rain that posed a severe threat to their crops due to overflowing rivers and lakes.

"When the rains began on July 8, it seemed heaven had opened all its taps," said a local farmer, Lu Qingxian, said yesterday.

Hundreds of troops were sent to the Jiaogang Lake to reinforce its embankments.

The floods ruined two thirds of crops in Lukou, a village located in the southeastern part of Yingshang.

In Bangang Town, in the southern part of Yingshang, telecommunications and power to 400 households still remain disconnected.

There is fear of an outbreak of contagious diseases such as diarrhea and cholera.

"The warm weather, combined with stagnating flood waters, are creating perfect breeding conditions for mosquitoes," Feng Hao, a doctor, said.

"Insect bites are very common at night, but so far no outbreak of communicable diseases have been reported," he said.

Teams of doctors have been dispatched to villages, where medical conditions are far below that of the cities.

An 83-year-old woman surnamed Lu, living in the lower part of Yangtai Village next to Jiaogang Lake, has moved her belongings to a relative's house standing on higher ground.

"The village head has alerted families to brace for more floods," Lu said. Her children are all employed as migrant workers in the coastal cities.

"We are concerned about our health, but there's not much we can do," she said.

The village head, also surnamed Lu, said the health department has supplied each household with disinfectants.

Du Changzhi, deputy director of the provincial health department, said by the end of the week more than 6,000 health workers would have been sent to flood-affected areas in Anhui.

Today, the picture is somewhat different.

"There's no shelter to escape the heat," Lu, the elderly woman said. "In such hot weather I don't eat much.

"To cool down, many villagers are wiping themselves with wet towels or are taking a dip in the muddy lake."

In addition, more than 270,000 evacuees from the province are yet to be allowed home following floods that have battered 15 cities and 69 counties there since the start of the month, the provincial disaster relief office said yesterday.

Floods in Anhui have killed 30 people and affected nearly 16 million, it said.

The province is still on flood alert as the third flood crest passed through the Wangjiaba section of the Huaihe River on Tuesday.

(China Daily July 19, 2007)

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