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Floods, Landslides Cause China's Death Toll to Rise
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China reported additional casualties on Sunday and Monday. Rescue workers retrieved more missing bodies lost in floods and mud-rock flows triggered by heavy rains in recent days in many parts of the country.

A landslide has left eight workers dead and another 11 injured at the construction site of the biggest hydropower station on the Yellow River, China's second longest waterway, in northwestern Qinghai Province, local authorities said on Monday.

The accident took place at the Laxiwa Hydropower Station located in Guide County in the early hours of Friday, in which more than 800 cubic meters of mud and rocks poured down the side of a slope onto a section of the dam, killing seven workers instantly, said a spokesman with the Qinghai Provincial Work Safety Administration.

Another worker suffered serious injuries and died after emergency treatment failed, the spokesman said.

All the 11 injured workers are currently being treated in hospitals in Guide and the provincial capital of Xining, he said, adding that they were in stable conditions.

With steep hills of more than 400 meters on both sides, construction of the hydropower station, which is owned by the Yellow River Upper Reaches Hydropower Development Co. Ltd., started in April last year.

Laxiwa will have a capacity of 4,200 megawatts and annual average generation of 10.223 billion kw/hours upon completion by the year 2010.

The station, with a budget of 14.5 billion yuan (US$1.79 billion), will be the second tiered hydropower plant between Longyang Gorge and Qingtong Gorge on Yellow River's upper reaches.

Its 250-meter-high dam will be the highest on the river and its first generating unit is expected to begin operating in 2008.

Rescuers retrieved two more bodies on Sunday at the Xiaojiangping Dam near the Sujiahekou Hydropower Station in Tengchong County, Yunnan Province. The mud-rock flow that began on early Thursday has brought the death toll to 29. The two corpses, a man and a woman, have been identified as workers from Chongqing Municipality.

The mud-rock flow, triggered by continuous rains, swept through three tents where 74 construction workers lived. Thirty-five managed to escape and ten were injured.

Also in Tengchong County, four villagers died and three were injured in a landslide that occurred on Saturday morning in a mining area near Xinqi village. The Chinese government reported more casualties on Sunday.

Rescuers also retrieved missing bodies lost in floods and mud-rock flows triggered by heavy rains in recent days in many parts of the country.

The Tengchong county government confirmed that the villagers were clearing mud debris from a mine in order to carry out illegal mining.

In a separate accident, armed police and divers have salvaged six of the seven workers' bodies from the Shashapo hydropower station in Daguan County, Yunnan. They are still searching for the last missing one.

A flood hit the station, which was under construction, around 2:40 PM on Thursday, leaving seven on site workers missing. All the workers were from a hydropower construction company in Sichuan Province.

In flood-ravaged Lincang City, seven people have been confirmed dead and ten others injured. More than 227,000 residents in eight counties were affected by the continuous rainfall, which has incurred 300 million Yuan (US$ 40 million) in economic losses.

Floods also plagued other regions. Yingjiang County and Pu'er City have reported at least three dead, eight missing and 117,000 people affected.

The Yunnan Provincial Civil Affairs Department reported that 163 people have been killed and eight missing since late May due to lightning strikes, floods and mud-rock flows. More than five million people have been affected.

More than 18,600 residents were evacuated and 321,000 hectares of farmland were damaged in the wake of heavy rains and floods, incurring over 2 billion Yuan (US$264 million) in economic losses.

In central China's Hubei Province, the seventh rainstorm to hit the province between Tuesday and Saturday since June 18 has left two dead and two missing.

The seven rainstorms have affected 13 million people in the province. Working teams from the provincial government have rushed to the affected areas to coordinate disaster-relief work.

In east China's Anhui Province, hundreds of thousands of people are working to prevent the long soaked dykes in the swelling Huaihe River from being breached. This is the river's second largest floodwater this summer since 1954.

More than one million people have been evacuated in Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces from the Huaihe River's projected flood path. No deaths have been reported from the Huaihe River flood.

By Thursday, July 16, China's death toll from natural disasters was 715, with 129 people missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The figures showed that 200 million people have been affected by natural disasters, including floods, landslides, droughts, gales, snowstorms and earthquakes. 4.45 million people have been forced to leave their homes.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2007)

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