Death toll mounts as storms lash China
BEIJING (AFP) Jun 30, 2004
Up to 30 more people have been killed in violent storms lashing parts of China, which have uprooted trees and ruined crops, state media said Wednesday.

Earlier reports have documented 49 deaths from inclement weather over the past week, taking the total toll to at least 79. Dozens more people have been reported missing.

In the latest storms, six villagers were killed and seven were missing after they were buried under a landslide as they slept Tuesday in Yibin city in southwestern Sichuan province, the Xinhua news agency said.

Five others were injured, three seriously, in a tragedy blamed on the heavy and continuous rain battering the area.

The China News Service said eight additional people have died in Sichuan over the past three days where 126 millimetres (five inches) of rain has fallen.

Meanwhile, nine people died in rain and hailstorms lashing eastern Shandong province, Xinhua said in a separate dispatch.

Zhang Kuizhong, an official with the provincial civil affairs bureau, said hailstorms and tornadoes had hit 67 county-level areas in Shandong, about half of the province's territory.

In the worst-affected areas, force-10 winds uprooted trees while hail destroyed cotton, corn and other crops.

Elsewhere, seven passengers were killed in a landslide that buried a bus in Lingyun county, southern Guangxi region.

The bus carrying 16 people, including 13 schoolchildren, was hit by a deluge of mud and rock.

Torrential rains and flooding were responsible for nearly 2,000 deaths in China in the first nine months of last year, according to the latest statistics available.

This year could be no less disastrous. With the flood season approaching, China has warned that nearly 30,000 reservoirs have safety problems, and some might even collapse.