Beijing (AFP) July 14, 2010
A series of landslides triggered by heavy rains in China has left at least 41 people dead and 34 others missing, state media said Wednesday, as authorities brace for possible flooding.
The landslides swept through villages in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan and in the central province of Hunan earlier this week.
In a small township in Yunnan's Qiaojia county -- the worst-hit -- 17 people have been confirmed dead and 28 were still missing, Xinhua news agency said in its latest report on the mounting toll.
Another 43 people were injured, a spokesman for the local government, who declined to be named, told AFP by phone.
Pictures from the scene showed a building completely dislocated from its foundation by the force of the landslide and teetering precariously, a car thrown on its side and streets caked in mud.
Relief teams were sent to the scene of the disaster with tents, rice, quilts and fresh clothing, Xinhua said.
The China Daily said two other landslides in neighbouring Sichuan province left 14 people dead, and one person was still unaccounted for.
In Hunan, 10 people were killed and five others remained missing in two separate landslides, Xinhua said.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, torrential rains and flooding have left 107 dead and 59 missing in China since the beginning of July, but it was unclear whether the landslide victims were part of that toll.
Heavy downpours since last week in parts of central and eastern China -- some of which suffered from deadly floods last month -- have caused levels in major lakes and some tributaries of the Yangtze River to rise alarmingly.
The National Meteorological Centre on Wednesday maintained its orange rainstorm alert, predicting more downpours in many of those areas.
Typhoon Conson, which has killed three people and caused major damage in the Philippines, is also expected to hit southern China towards the end of the week, the centre warned.
earlier related report
The Xinhua news agency said that as of Tuesday, rain-triggered floods had affected some 29 million people and 997,000 had been evacuated.
The latest toll is more than double that reported by Xinhua Monday following rains along the Yangtze River, China's longest, over the past week.
Heavy downpours in central and eastern China have caused water levels in major lakes and some river tributaries to rise alarmingly, state media has said.
Earlier Tuesday, 17 people were confirmed dead and 44 others were missing after torrential rains sent landslides crashing into villages in southwestern China, officials and state media said.
In Yunnan province, four people were killed and 42 others went missing when rocks came crashing down on a local township in the city of Zhaotong, a local official told AFP.
"The township is located in a river valley surrounded by mountains, people were buried in their homes," said the official from Qiaojia county, who asked not to be named.
"Torrential rains caused the landslides," he added.
Another 53 people were injured in the disaster, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
In neighbouring Sichuan province, two separate landslides left 13 people dead and two missing, the report said.
The disasters continue a run of rain-triggered death and destruction from flooding across a huge area of southern, central and eastern China since June that the government said has left hundreds dead.
China is ravaged every summer by heavy rains and resulting deadly flooding but the extreme weather has been especially severe this year.
Heavy rains continued on Tuesday in regions still recovering from June flooding.
State television broadcast images of flooded town streets in Anhui province in the east and inundated villages and agricultural fields in Hunan in central China.
On one swollen branch of the Yangtze in Anhui province in the city of Tongcheng, authorities were preparing to blast a leaking dyke to prevent flood waters from inundating villages, reports said.
Both Poyang Lake in eastern Jiangxi province and Dongting Lake in Hunan -- two of China's largest inland bodies of water -- were at or near their warning levels, officials had said on Monday.
Meteorological authorities have warned that still more heavy rain was expected in flood-hit regions in coming days.
Rains and flooding have caused economic losses totalling 116 billion yuan (17 billion dollars) since the start of the year, state television said.
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by Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive Director - Secure World Foundation
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 14, 2010 The influence of Earth remote sensing satellites in disaster management can be greatly enhanced over the next decade, becoming a far more powerful tool than today to help mitigate the effects of natural and human-made calamities. A future look into the unrealized potential of remotely sensed data for pre-, during, and post-disaster scenarios was detailed b ... read more
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