Beijing (AFP) Aug 23, 2010
Workers in northeast China on Monday toiled to clean up the mess left by severe flooding that killed four people, forced 250,000 out of their homes and left parts of a city in North Korea under water.
Heavy downpours last week swelled the Yalu river, which forms part of the border between China and North Korea, to dangerously high levels, sending water spilling over its banks on both sides, inundating homes, roads and farmland.
In North Korea, state media has said leader Kim Jong-Il ordered an emergency military rescue operation in the city of Sinuiju, where 5,000 people have been relocated after areas were "completely inundated".
Authorities in the Chinese border city of Dandong said it would take several days to clear mud and debris, but new storms forecast for later this week threatened to complicate their efforts.
"The flood has receded and the clean-up operation is going on," an official at the Dandong flood control headquarters told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We can finish the cleaning up in two or three days."
Another city official told AFP that most of the 94,000 evacuated from the city centre were taken to schools and other shelters, or had gone to stay with relatives. A total of 253,000 people were evacuated across Liaoning province.
A couple in their 70s and a mother and son died in Kuandian county, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Dandong, when flash floods swept away their homes, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a local official.
A 60-year-old man was also missing in Kuandian, state media said.
A flood control official in Dandong said the water level on the Yalu had "dropped below the warning line" and some people had returned to their homes, adding that the number of casualties was still being calculated.
In North Korea, parts of Sinuiju and rural communities near the border were submerged, the state Korean Central News Agency reported.
Traffic in downtown Sinuiju was "paralysed" and flood victims were stranded on rooftops and on hills, it said.
The impoverished state has been hit by widespread flooding this summer which has washed away homes, roads, railways and farmland, causing an unspecified number of deaths, according to North Korean state media reports.
After decades of deforestation, North Korea is particularly vulnerable to flooding. In 2007, it reported at least 600 people dead or missing from devastating floods.
China has for months been battling its worst flooding in a decade. So far, nearly 3,900 have been killed or left missing this year in flood-related incidents, according to official figures.
In the northwestern province of Gansu, a torrent of mud slammed into homes in the remote town of Zhouqu early this month, leaving at least 1,435 people dead and another 330 missing.
Premier Wen Jiabao visited Zhouqu at the weekend for a second time since the disaster, saying the most pressing task now was to provide food, drinking water, medical care and shelter to survivors, Xinhua said.
In southern China, authorities on the island province of Hainan were bracing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Mindulle, which could make landfall early Tuesday, packing winds of up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) an hour.
Heavy rain was expected to pound the island for three days.
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