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China braces for tropical storm amid floods
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 21, 2011

China, already hit by torrential downpours that have left more than 260 dead or missing, braced Tuesday for more rains and wind as a tropical storm neared its southern coast, weather authorities said.

The state weather bureau said the storm was brewing at sea off the coast of Guangdong and Fujian provinces, and was likely to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the region over the next two days.

Summer downpours have pummelled large swathes of south and central China this month, triggering deadly floods and landslides that have forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.6 million people.

The rains have left at least 261 people dead or missing while more than 36 million have been "affected" one way or another by the rain and flooding, the civil affairs ministry said Monday.

But the state flood headquarters sounded a positive note Tuesday, saying the downpours in flood-hit areas were receding.

In the populous eastern province of Zhejiang, where nearly 300,000 people had been evacuated along the Qiantang river as the waterway threatened to burst its banks and flood towns and villages, the water fell below warning levels.

The National Meteorological Centre on Tuesday forecast intermittent showers and thunderstorms in parts of the hard-hit flooded regions over the next three days, but said heavy rains in south and central China were unlikely.

China is hit by torrential summer rainfalls every year.

Heavy downpours across large swathes of the country last year triggered the nation's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing in floods, landslides and other rain-related disasters.

One devastating mudslide in the northwestern province of Gansu killed 1,500 people last August.

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US tornado toll hits 155 in Joplin
Chicago (AFP) June 20, 2011 - The toll from the deadliest single tornado to strike the United States in six decades rose to 155 after two more people died of their injuries, officials in Joplin, Missouri said Monday.

That brings the year's total to 541 tornado fatalities, making 2011 the deadliest tornado season since 1936 and the fourth worst on record, according to the national weather service.

Two bad days accounted for nearly all the deaths: an outbreak of dozens of tornadoes that killed 314 people in five states on April 27 and the massive twister that struck Joplin on May 22.

The nearly mile-wide twister packing winds of more than 200 miles per hour cut a six-mile (nearly 10 kilometer) swath of destruction through the town of 50,000 people.

Officials predict it will cost billions to repair the physical damage caused by the deadly twisters and months for life to return to normal.

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Flood-hit China braces for more storms
Beijing (AFP) June 20, 2011
Flood-hit areas of central and southern China braced for more heavy rains Monday with several major rivers already swollen after downpours that have affected millions and left scores dead or missing. Water Resources Minister Chen Lei warned that at least 10 major rivers in the affected areas were threatening to burst their banks. "Severe floods triggered by heavy rains will continue to t ... read more

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