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Floods, Lightning Strikes Leave 25 Dead in NW China
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Natural disasters triggered by rain and snow melting at high altitudes have left 25 dead and affected 1.2 million people over the last month in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said a regional civil affairs official on Tuesday.

Twenty-three people died in floods and mud-rock flows in the Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili, Altay, in northern Xinjiang, and Turpan, in central Xinjiang, in July and early August, said the official.

Another two were killed by lightning strikes, said the official.

Natural disasters like rainstorms, floods, hail and strong winds also affected 1.21 million people and caused economic losses of 1.5 billion yuan (US$180 million).

Floods also hit parts of southern Xinjiang.

In early August, the Aksu River, the Hotan River and the Yarkang River, all major branches of the Tarim River in southern Xinjiang, were hit by the worst flooding in 10 years, according to the office of the regional flood control and drought relief headquarters.

The floods were mainly caused by rapidly melting snow, said the office. One person was reported missing in the flooding, which also inundated an area of 20 square kilometers and 66 hectares of cotton crops.

About 500 soldiers and local people managed to control the floods after three days.

Also in Hotan, southern Xinjiang, seven road repair workers were swept away by sudden floods on August 1. Six of them were rescued, but one is still missing.

Road traffic was also affected in southern Xinjiang as rain and floods wrecked many roads in the area.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2006)

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