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Rainstorms Kill 5, Affect 700,000
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Five people were killed and more than 700,000 people were affected after more rainstorms ravaged northwest, southwest and central China.

Nearly 150 millimeters of rain hit Jingchuan County in northwestern Gansu Province, between 7:40 PM and 10:40 PM on Tuesday, an official with the Gansu Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.

The rainstorm destroyed 430 houses, left two dead, one missing, and three injured. The storm affected nearly 100,000 people in 72 villages, the official said. He added that road and agricultural facilities were also seriously damaged.

Two farmers in Huocheng County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, were swept away by floods triggered by heavy rain on Tuesday night. They both died.

At least 48 herdsmen and 13,000 goats have been stranded for nearly two days in a mountainous area in northwestern Xinjiang after a landslide cut off their path on Monday.

Fallen rocks and mud created a huge dam between two opposite mountains in Jinghe County of Bortala Prefecture, which is about 400 km northwest of the capital city of Urumqi. Floodwater has filled in the dam, forming two lakes of 3,000 sq.m. and 1,000 sq.m. respectively, completely blocking the mountain paths.

Two teams of rescuers and experts, carrying communication equipment, food and drinking water, have been searching for a new access route to the herdsmen, who were leading their goats down from a mountainous pasture site when the landslide suddenly rushed down.

A rainstorm on Monday in southwestern Guizhou Province caused one death and affected 640,000 people.

Xifeng and Yinjiang counties in Guizhou Province experienced rainfall of 100 to 114 millimeters on Monday. Downtown Guiyang, Guizhou's capital, received 64 millimeters of rain from 8 a.m. to 4 PM on Wednesday. Rainstorms have caused some 425 houses to collapse in in Guizhou.

Continuous rain from Saturday onwards has also swollen rivers in Xiangxi, Tujia and the Miao Autonomous Prefecture, all located in central Hunan Province.

More than 100,000 people have been called upon to protect the river embankments, where the water level was three to seven meters higher than the warning line.

Longshan, a county in the prefecture, experienced 317 millimeters of rain. It was the strongest storm in a decade.

The water level in the middle section of the Yangtze River has also risen to the warning lines.

At 2 PM on Wednesday, the water level of the river's section in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province, was 24.96 meters. The 25-meter mark signifies the need to start implementing flood control plans.

Estimates expect that the flood would push up the river to 25.05 meters at about 8 PM Thursday. More downpours around the river's upper and middle reaches are expected in the next three days, worsening the flood control situation.

Surveillance will be reinforced along the river, particularly at dams, water gates and reservoirs in the wake of upcoming flood crest, said Li Xiansheng, mayor of Wuhan and also the commander in chief of the city's flood control operation.

The water level of the middle and lower sections of the Hanjiang River, the biggest branch of the Yangtze, has already exceeded warning lines.

About 26,000 people have been mobilized to protect the dikes in Hubei Province.

Meanwhile, the water level of the swollen Huaihe River in the east is rising again due to continuous rainfall. The river has been swollen for more than 20 days.

Water level at the Wangjiaba, a key hydrological station of the Huaihe, rose to 27.63 meters at 3 PM on Wednesday. This is 0.13 meters higher than the warning line.

"The Huaihe flood control work is still at a critical period because the water level has been high for a long time and many sections of the river's dikes are facing an increasing risk of being breached," said an official with the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.

In Anhui Province, a tornado hammered 33 villages in ten townships for 40 minutes early Wednesday morning, bringing down 133 houses and destroying 290 hectares of cropland and 90,000 trees. It also cut off many electricity and telephone wires, incurring an economic loss of 21 million yuan (US$2.77 million).

No casualties have been reported.

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

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions, along with its branches in the flood-hit regions, has extended 10.7 million yuan (US$1.4 million) in disaster relief.

(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2007)

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