Freak weather spells misery for 12 million Chinese
BEIJING (AFP) Sep 05, 2003
Freak weather has brought misery to 12 million Chinese, as the worst typhoon in a quarter century has ravaged the south while flooding is threatening lives in the north, state media and officials said Friday.

A total of 6.4 million people have been affected in south China's Guangdong province and 40 have died from the onslaught of Dujuan, the most devastating typhoon to hit since 1979, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Economic losses in the province were put at 2.3 billion yuan (280 million dollars) after 54,000 homes were destroyed in the typhoon, Xinhua said.

Several businesses have been hard hit by the typhoon, especially in agriculture, fishery and forestry, where losses are estimated at 1.3 billion yuan, according to the agency.

In northern Shaanxi province, 4.9 million people have been impacted by worsening floods along the Wei River brought about by unusually heavy rain, while economic losses amount to about four billion yuan, according to Xinhua.

More than 400,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas, and to prepare for winter, which is just months away, 100,000 quilts along with other massive relief supplies are needed, the agency reported.

Provincial officials have called for public donations to help with the funding, which they estimate will reach about about 86 million yuan, according to the report.

The provincial government cannot possibly shoulder this burden itself, as it was forced earlier this year to spend an unexpected 50 million yuan to deal with the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, the agency said.

Meanwhile the Yellow River Anti-Flood Headquarters issued a warning to communities along the middle and lower reaches to prepare for floods as water levels in reservoirs along the middle reaches, including the giant Xiaolangdi resevoir, surpassed warning levels, the China News Service reported.

Shaanxi's Wei River is a major tributary of the Yellow River.

In eastern Shandong province, along the lower reaches of the Yellow River, more than 1.1 million people have also been affected by heavy rainstorms over the past two weeks, Xinhua said.

Rain waters have flooded 99 townships and destroyed more than 15,000 homes, causing economic losses of about 900 million yuan, Xinhua said.