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Flood-triggered landslide in China leaves 21 missing

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 27, 2010
A landslide in southwestern China left 21 people missing Tuesday as torrential rains forced officials to shut boat traffic through the Three Gorges Dam as they braced for a new flood crest.

China has struggled for weeks with deadly flooding that has killed at least 823 people, left 437 missing and caused at least 22 billion dollars in damage, and authorities have warned of more destruction.

The 21 villagers went missing when Tuesday's landslide struck Hanyuan county in the southwestern province of Sichuan, destroying or damaging dozens of houses, the local government said on its website.

Weeks of torrential rain across huge areas of China, mainly in the country's southern half, have caused repeated deadly landslides and triggered the nation's worst flooding in a decade.

Boats have been stopped from navigating through the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in central China, the official Xinhua news agency said, as engineers there wait for the second flood peak of the year to flow through.

The peak, which should hit Wednesday morning, was not expected to be as big as last week's, when around 70,000 cubic metres of water per second gushed into the dam's reservoir, the highest in decades.

That flood peak passed largely without incident as the dam's massive spillgates released torrents of water, but authorities have warned communities downstream to prepare for rising water levels.

In central China's Henan province, rescuers were searching for 13 people still missing three days after a bridge collapsed amid flash floods, killing 28 people, state media reports said.

The bridge collapsed in the city of Luoyang on Saturday and 42 people were thrown from it into the raging Yi river, it said.

A later state media report said the death toll had risen to at least 50 but gave no further details.

The rains also threatened the 1,500-year-old Longmen Grottoes, a World Heritage Site, in Luoyang.

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