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Downpours threaten South China
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Heavy rains are forecast in many parts of south China over the next nine days, and torrential rain, strong gales and thunderstorms are expected to strike some regions, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) warned Sunday.

People wade through knee-deep water on a Hong Kong street after the city was lashed by rainstorms as was most of South China yesterday. So intense was the downpour in Hong Kong that its weather office had to issue the highest rainstorm warning. [Xinhua]

Precipitation in Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangxi is expected to be 30 to 70 percent more than, or even double, that of the same period in previous years, the NMC forecast.

Quake-affected areas of Sichuan province aren't expected to receive heavy rain but would face higher temperatures than in previous years, the NMC said.

Meteorological centers at various levels and of relevant departments, such as emergency response offices, are closely monitoring potential weather-related disasters, such as flashfloods and landslides, to provide early warnings and updated forecasts.

The NMC on Saturday morning launched a Level 3 emergency response to the rainstorms anticipated in southern provinces.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters raised its emergency level on Friday from Level 3 to Level 2 because of the risk of rainstorm-triggered floods.

Torrential rains in the country's southern provinces last month killed 64 people.

And the forecasted rainstorms are expected to be severer than those of late May, deputy head of the headquarters Tian Yitang said.

"We should be on high alert and vigilant of the threat of floods, because the last round of downpours raised the water levels in some rivers," Tian said.

Damaged reservoirs in Sichuan had been ordered to maintain low water levels, because many of the reservoirs and irrigations systems in quake-affected areas haven't yet been repaired.

Repairs would be finished on all reservoirs by June 20, the provincial bureau of water resources said.

Reinforcement work on the 722.6 km of river embankments damaged by the quake is expected to be completed by the month's end, the bureau said.

The heaviest rainstorms in 50 years drenched parts of Guangdong province over the weekend, killing at least one student and causing widespread flooding, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.

One primary school student died after being swept away by a flood on Saturday in Maoming, in western Guangdong.

Another primary school student and a high school student were still missing.

More than 6,500 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Torrential rains have affected the province over the past two weeks, with rainfall in some areas measuring more than 400 mm during the period.

Rare torrential rain had also wreaked havoc on Hong Kong on Saturday morning, Xinhua reported.

The sky turned black, and rainstorms and thunderstorms caused schools and hospitals to close. Vehicles were submerged in water, and traffic was widely disrupted in the city.

Torrential rains on Friday also forced Shenzhen International Airport to cancel 12 flights and delay 150 more.

Thunderstorms in Yichang, Hubei province, caused blackouts in some parts of the city.

(China Daily June 9, 2008)

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