Asia struggles to cope as storms spread destruction
Beijing (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
Severe storms and floods sweeping Asia this week have killed dozens of people and displaced hundreds of thousands across large swathes of the continent, with more storms forecast.
Record monsoon rain and the onslaught of tropical storm Fanapi wreaked devastation from South Korea to India, triggering landslides, washing away thousands of homes and tearing through roads and railways.
Thirty-three people have died and 42 are missing after Fanapi churned through southern China, while 65 people were killed in monsoon rain in India and 100,000 displaced after a lake burst in southern Pakistan.
Fanapi made landfall on mainland China on Monday, one day after slamming Taiwan with heavy rain, killing two people and leaving more than 100 injured on the island.
All of China's deaths occurred in the southern province of Guangdong, which saw its worst rain in a century, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
Five died after a dam burst while two were killed when their house collapsed, the report said. Of the missing, 25 disappeared in a rain-triggered mudslide.
Over 78,000 people in Guangdong have been evacuated due to the storm, which destroyed some 1,400 homes, local authorities said, according to Xinhua.
Initial direct economic losses amounted to two billion yuan (300 million dollars), Xinhua said.
Fanapi was moving west at up to 10 kilometres (six miles) an hour, bringing torrential rain in its wake, meteorologists said.
At its strongest point, when it hit Taiwan on Sunday, Fanapi was packing winds of up to 220 kilometres an hour and dumped up to 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) of rain in the south of the island.
The storm caused damage estimated at around five billion Taiwan dollars (158 million US), officials said.
Two people went missing and thousands of homes flooded when a record rainstorm hit parts of South Korea during a national holiday, the disaster control agency said Wednesday.
The storm on Tuesday -- the start of the three-day Chuseok harvest festival -- dumped almost 300 millimetres of rain on parts of Seoul, an all-time high for late September since records began in 1907.
The National Emergency Management Agency said some 11,800 people were briefly made homeless by the deluge, which flooded roads and subway lines.
It said two fishermen were missing in the northeastern province of Gangwon and were feared to have been swept away when a river swelled.
In northern India at least 65 people have died after heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding.
The mountainous northern state of Uttarakhand was worst affected, with 65 people killed over three days, regional civilian administrator Subhash Kumar told AFP on Monday.
Elsewhere, in the impoverished northern state of Bihar, the river Gandhak burst its banks and displaced thousands of people, destroying paddy crops and houses.
"Floods have left thousands of people, mostly the poorest of the poor, homeless in the last 48 hours," one local district magistrate told AFP.
In New Delhi, where workers are rushing to finish delayed construction work ahead of the start of the Commonwealth Games on October 3, a newspaper report said the city had experienced its wettest monsoon in more than three decades.
Some 100,000 more people have been displaced after a lake burst in southern Pakistan where massive floods have already affected millions of people, a UN spokesman said Tuesday.
The Manchar lake in southern Sindh province overflowed on Friday, forcing people living in the area to seek refuge elsewhere, UN spokesman Maurizio Giuliano told AFP.
"More than a hundred thousand (have) been displaced. Not only houses, but boats were also found in pieces, crops are completely washed away," Giuliano said.
Some 21 million people have been affected by floods that have ravaged Pakistan, according to UN figures, including 12 million who need emergency food aid.
earlier related report
Wen said wealthy nations should give aid "no strings attached" as he outlined China's plans to cancel more debt and increase assistance to African nations.
"To offer a loaf of bread is more useful than making an empty promise," Wen said in his attack on nations who have not kept past promises to provide money for the world's poorest countries.
"Developed countries should fulfill in good faith their commitments, assume the main responsibility in assisting developing countries."
He said rich nations must carry out a pledge to increase their aid to 0.7 percent of gross national income "and provide long-term, stable and predictable financial assistance to developing countries.
"The assistance should be selfless and have no strings attached."
Wen said that by the end of 2009, China had canceled debt worth about four billion dollars owed by some 50 countries. He said China would also cancel debt associated with loans that mature in 2010.
The premier also announced that China is to give an extra 200 million dollars in emergency flood assistance to Pakistan.
"I wish to take this opportunity to announce that China will, on top of the pledged assistance, provide another 200 million dollars of assistance to Pakistan," he said.
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