Lifesaving top priority, premier says

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Premier Li Keqiang called on Thursday for rescuers to do their utmost to save lives as rain-triggered natural disasters across the country have killed at least 30 people and left 67 others missing since Sunday.

Lifesaving top priority, premier says

Rescuers race against time to evacuate people as floods continue to sweep through Guanghan, Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Thursday. [Photo/China Daily]

"Governments in disaster-affected regions must improve monitoring, issue early warnings and watch weather conditions closely," Li said.

Floods and landslides have affected about 3.73 million people in 17 provincial-level regions, forcing the evacuation of 212,000 residents, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said. Rainstorms have destroyed more than 8,400 houses and damaged another 113,000, causing direct economic losses of 8.56 billion yuan ($1.4 billion), according to the ministry.

In Sichuan province, one of the hardest-hit areas, people are struggling with floods but being helped by rescuers.

Hong Chi wept as she saw her 83-year-old father Hong Tongjin and 79-year-old mother Xiao Kaiqiong after getting off a bus in Zhongxing, a town in Dujiangyan, Sichuan province, at noon on Thursday. The area was hit by a landslide on Wednesday.

"I thought we would never see each other again," said the 40-year-old civil servant from Guanghan, about 120 km from Zhongxing.

Together with six retired high school teachers from Guanghan, Hong's parents had been staying in a rural resort in mountainous Sanxi village in Zhongxing since June 26 to escape the summer heat.

After a landslide caused by rains hit Sanxi on Wednesday, burying eight of the resorts where many senior citizens were staying, Hong was unable to contact her parents until they met at noon on Thursday because communications were cut.

"Soon after learning about the landslide from the Internet, I rushed to Zhongxing, where I spent a sleepless night," said Hong, wiping away tears.

Her parents were among 352 tourists and villagers evacuated from the scene of the landslide on Wednesday and Thursday, according to Chen Jianfu, an official in Zhongxing.

"Sanxi had 800 residents before the landslide. Some 200 are staying in classrooms and dormitories at Zhongxing High School," he said.

Wu Sufang, 71, and her six family members were evacuated to the school from their home in Sanxi on Wednesday afternoon.


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