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. China sinkhole sends hundreds fleeing: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 20, 2008
Nearly 400 villagers in southern China were forced to evacuate after a sinkhole opened up, causing one building to collapse and threatening up to 72 others, state media reported on Saturday.

The cave-in on Friday afternoon left a three-metre-wide (10-foot) hole in the ground in the southern city of Guangzhou, Xinhua news agency said.

However, it has affected at total of 5,000 square metres (54,000 square feet) of land in Xiamao village, it added.

The report said an initial investigation has found the sinkage was caused by pilings being driven into the earth for a real estate project, which weakened a subterranean limestone cave.

However, it added that an investigation was continuing.

No casualties have been reported as the damage occurred gradually, giving people time to evacuate, it added.

A total of 381 people were evacuated, Xinhua said.

One building collapsed, 11 were "cracked", and 61 others were being monitored for possible safety problems, it said.

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Disasters killed more than 238,000 people in 2008: Swiss Re
Geneva (AFP) Dec 18, 2008
Catastrophes killed more than 238,000 people this year, with cyclone Nargis which swept through Myanmar accounting for more than half the deaths, a study by reinsurer Swiss Re showed on Thursday.

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