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Death Toll of Tropical Storm Bilis Rises to 170 in China
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At least 14 people were confirmed dead when a swelling river flooded a colliery in central China's Hunan Province Saturday, bringing the country's death toll of the tropical storm Bilis to 170.

Among the 14 dead were a miner on duty, seven technicians who were in the pit for emergency rescue operations, as well as six workers who were trapped in collapsed houses and flooded pump rooms, said the emergency rescue headquarters at the Shenjiawan Colliery of the Hongwei Mining Co. in Hengyang, central-south China's Hunan Province, on Monday.

Continuous rainstorm caused by the tropical storm Bilis that landed in China on Friday swelled the upper reaches of the Leishui River in Leiyang city and destroyed the dams of a reservoir close to the colliery on Saturday.

Hunan is the worst hit province by Bilis as 92 people have been confirmed dead and more than 100 missing. Floods and rainstorms accompanying the tropical storm also claimed 33 lives in Guangdong Province, 43 in Fujian Province and two in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Fourteen of Fujian's 68 counties and cities have recorded rainfall of more than 200 millimeters, including two whose rainfall exceeded 400 millimeters.

Three million people had been affected by flooding, 19,100 houses destroyed and 519,000 people evacuated by 6:00 PM on Sunday.

Rainstorms and floods ruined 144,680 hectares of crops and forced 1,865 industrial and mining enterprises to suspend production, resulting in losses of three billion yuan (US$375 million).

The Fujian government has appropriated 4.3 million yuan (US$537,500) for relief aid and delivered 2,000 quilts, 6,000 boxes of instant noodles and 12,000 tents to victims.

In Guangdong Province, where 33 people were killed by the storm and landslides, 1.32 million people have been affected and 4,744 houses destroyed.

Part of China's main north-south railway line, or the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway, in Guangdong was submerged and 10,000 workers have been sent to fix the damage.

Several trains have been cancelled and by 4:00 PM Sunday 25,000 tickets had been refunded. Railway authorities said Monday it would take two or three days to repair the line.

Water level in many parts of the province were at historical highs.

Local meteorological departments said heavy rains or rainstorms would continue in Guangdong for the next couple of days.

Guangxi disaster officials confirmed Monday that two people died when their houses collapsed in flood. They said 1.135 million people were affected by Bilis which has also caused 300 million yuan (US$37.5 million) worth of economic loss.

A total of 224 reservoirs in Guangxi were forced to discharge floodwater. More than 30,000 people stranded by flood have been evacuated by Monday.

The storm triggered heavy rainfall and serious floods in Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi since July 14, which also caused the emergency relocation of 1.7 million residents by 9:30 PM. Sunday, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

There were no reports of casualties in Zhejiang and Jiangxi.

A joint work group representing the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Finance and several other departments have rushed to the disaster zones to aid and guide relief efforts.

Bilis claimed at least 14 people in Luzon region of the Philippines before landing in China, according to Philippine disaster officials.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2006)

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