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China flood deaths rise, more rain expected
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 13, 2011

China said Monday the number of people confirmed killed in recent floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain had leapt past 100 as authorities warned the downpours were set to continue.

The nation's civil affairs ministry said the summer rains that have so far affected 13 provinces or regions -- some of which had only recently been through a severe dry spell -- had left 105 people dead and another 63 missing.

The National Meteorological Centre added heavy rains along the affected middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river -- China's longest -- were to continue over the next three days, adding to an already serious situation.

"Water levels in rivers and reservoirs in some areas of the Yangtze river are nearing or have already exceeded warning levels," the centre said in a statement.

It added authorities should step up their checks on dams and reservoirs. "At the same time, they must be on their guards for disasters such as floods, land- and mudslides."

All in all, at least 465,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of cropland have been destroyed.

Drought-hit provinces such as Hubei and Hunan along the Yangtze are now in the thralls of heavy summer rainfall, and the recent dry spell has in some cases made the situation worse.

On Friday, one landslide blasted through villages in Hunan before dawn, killing at least 19 people and leaving another eight missing. One village saw most of its houses buried by mud, the official China Daily reported.

Experts sent to investigate said the mudslide was triggered by the heaviest rain in the area in 300 years, adding the ground was drier than usual because of the drought, making it easier for downpours to sweep away sand and rocks.

China is hit by heavy summer rainfalls every year. In 2010, torrential downpours across large swathes of the country triggered the nation's worst floods in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

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

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US tornado toll hits 153
Chicago (AFP) June 13, 2011 - The toll from the deadliest single tornado to strike the United States in six decades rose to 153, officials in the devastated Missouri town of Joplin said Monday.

That brings the year's total to 538 tornado fatalities, making 2011 the deadliest tornado season since 1927 and the fifth 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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China warns of more rain after deadly floods
Beijing (AFP) June 13, 2011
China's weather authorities warned Monday torrential rain that has triggered deadly floods and landslides would continue, as experts said a recent drought was making the situation worse. The government said at the weekend that flooding in 13 provinces or regions had already left 94 people dead and 78 others missing, and destroyed 465,000 hectares (1.5 million acres) of cropland, an area almo ... read more

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