Monday, August 9, 2010

More than 1,300 die in China flood

More than 1,300 people are feared dead after flash floods and landslides struck north-west China.

The disaster in Gansu province covered entire villages in water, mud, and rocks.

Vehicles carrying aid supplies choked the road over bare, eroded mountains into the remote county seat of Zhouqu. Bodies wrapped in blankets were collected and laid on truck beds, although the government had not updated the death toll since Sunday night.

Work was under way to restore power, water and communications in affected areas in the southern part of the province, and it was not known how many of the missing were in danger or simply out of contact.

Hoping to prevent further disasters, demolition experts set off three sets of charges to clear debris blocking the Bailong River upstream from the ravaged Zhouqu, which remained largely submerged.

The blockage had formed a two-mile artificial lake on the river that overflowed, sending torrents crashing down onto the town. Houses were ripped from their foundations, apartment buildings shattered, and streets covered with a layer of mud and water more than a yard deep.

Authorities were rushing in water, tents, blankets and other emergency supplies and Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the area on Sunday to oversee relief efforts.

Mr Wen visited hard-hit areas including the Sanyan valley, where a village of 300 households was completely buried in mudslides, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said more than 680 villagers have been rescued, but gave no word on numbers still believed to be trapped.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Mr Wen comforting victims and promising government reconstruction support. At one point he is shown calling out to people waiting to be pulled from their buried home, saying: "Don't move! We're getting you out."

China's worst flooding in a decade has killed more than 1,100 people this year, with more than 600 still missing. The floods have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.


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