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« on: July 27, 2007, 03:58:44 PM »

More rain to hit China after floods kill over 500
27 Jul 2007 05:52:40 GMT

BEIJING, July 27 (Reuters) - Heavy rain is to hit flood-battered southwest China over the next few days with officials warning of landslides as a heatwave shows no let-up across the south and east, state media said on Friday.

More than 500 people have died nationwide in floods this summer and meteorologists forecast more downpours for the Guangxi region and the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan where floods and related disasters have already taken a heavy toll.

"The possibility of landslides and mud and rock flows is high and preventive measures should be taken," the centre said on its Web site (www.nmc.gov.cn).

Weeks of rain in the area, home to the upper reaches of China's longest river, the Yangtze, have made floods peak in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei, state media said.

Authorities in Hubei had mobilised tens of thousands of people to check embankments as the Han River, a main tributary that converges with Yangtze, was also swollen.

Chinese newspaper on Friday showed pictures of Wuhan citizens playing in knee-deep water on what used to be a riverside walk.

Water levels on the Huai River, which has been overflowing since the start of July and has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, remained above dangerous levels though the disaster was "nearing its end", Xinhua news agency said.

But many villagers in the eastern province of Anhui, evacuated before their homes and crops were deliberately flooded to ease pressure on the Huai, were still unable to return home.

Heavy rain also soaked parts of several northwestern provinces this week, causing serious street flooding and delaying trains in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province, on Thursday, Xinhua said. The area is to be hit by more rain on Friday.

In the northern province of Shanxi, rainstorms have halted efforts to rescue the nine coal miners trapped when flood water inundated their pit on Sunday, Xinhua said. Two bodies have been found so far.

While most of the deaths from floods occured in China's vast and underdeveloped countryside, at least 34 urban residents were killed last Wednesday by a three-hour rainstorm in Jinan, capital of the usually dry province of Shandong in the north.

Many died of electric shocks and others drowned in their cars swept away along streets-turned-canals.

Chinese media and Internet users have questioned how so many people could die in a modern city, even though the storm unleashed 153 mm (6 inches) of rain in a matter of hours.

They criticised the government for insufficient early warnings, failure to upgrade outdated drainage and inadequate rescue efforts.

Jinan police in turn detained two people for "spreading rumours" online about the disaster, one of whom challenged official lines that no one died in a basement supermarket completely submerged in the storm, local media reported.

Temperatures in at least seven southern and southeastern Chinese provinces -- home to about 200 million people -- could reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit) on Friday, the National Meteorological Centre said.

The heat, which has persisted for about a month in some areas, is set to compound the drought in the rice-growing provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan and Fujian, where about 1 million residents faced shortages of drinking water.

More rain to hit China after floods kill over 500

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