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China floods threaten ancient capital as more rain forecast

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 26, 2010
Torrential rains have left 37 dead in China's ancient capital Luoyang and shut its World Heritage site as authorities on Monday warned other flood-hit areas to brace for renewed deluges in days ahead.

China's worst flooding in 10 years has already left more than 1,200 dead or missing this year but government officials said some major rivers would face their biggest flood crests in decades following renewed rains.

Weekend torrential rains left another 19 people missing in Luoyang, a city in the central province of Henan that is famed for its 1,500-year-old Longmen Grottoes, a World Heritage Site.

Images broadcast on state-run television showed the Yi river had burst its banks and water was lapping at the base of the grotto complex. The downpours there were the worst in 50 years, reports said.

All in all, more than 50 people had been killed in Henan due to rain-triggered floods, the province's water resources department said on its website.

The northern province of Shaanxi, meanwhile, is reeling from downpours that have killed 111 people in just four days and left another 167 missing, the government said.

More than 700,000 people were forced to flee their homes and nearly 48,000 houses collapsed as some areas there saw the worst rain in 500 years, it said.

In the southwestern province of Yunnan, 11 people are missing after rain-triggered landslides early Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

And 13 miners died over the weekend in a landslide triggered by days of rain in Huating county in the northwestern province of Gansu, the state-run Gansu Daily reported. Two workers who were buried survived.

National weather authorities have warned of still more rain in some flood-hit areas, which are generally centred on the drainage basin of the Yangtze river, China's longest.

The persistent rains, often torrential downpours, have wreaked havoc in countless communities, killing 823 people and leaving 437 missing nationwide this year, according to the latest official figures announced Monday.

They also have left major rivers such as the Yangtze, Huai and many of their tributaries dangerously swollen.

Water levels in the reservoir created by the massive Three Gorges Dam, which hit a year-high last week before subsiding slightly, would rise again Monday as water from recent heavy rains upstream flowed in, authorities said.

Engineers at the dam -- the world's largest -- warned that the reservoir's water levels could go nearly 14 metres (46 feet) over the danger line, according to Xinhua.

Authorities downstream had issued warnings during last week's flood peak as the dam gushed huge torrents of water to maintain the reservoir's water level.

However, that flood peak passed largely without incident downstream.

The situation along the Han River, a Yangtze tributary, was also serious and authorities ordered that water be diverted into an emergency reservoir, Xinhua said.

Premier Wen Jiabao warned Saturday the situation was at a "crucial stage" and called for stepped up flood prevention efforts across rain-hit regions, which comprise the entire southern half of the country.




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SHAKE AND BLOW
New China floods feared as Yangtze swells
Chongqing, China (AFP) July 23, 2010
China, already reeling from deadly floods, braced Friday for a potential new deluge on the Yangtze downstream from the huge Three Gorges Dam as its reservoir's level hit a high for the year. The warnings came as officials sought to dampen expectations that the dam could completely tame the swelling river amid the worst flooding in a decade, which has left more than 1,100 people dead or missi ... read more

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