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Nearly 1,700 dead, missing in China floods

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 4, 2010
The number of people killed or missing in devastating floods across China so far this year has risen to nearly 1,700, the government said Wednesday, warning the situation could still get worse.

Parts of southern, central and northern China have been hit by summer downpours that have caused the worst flooding in a decade, triggered deadly landslides, cut off roads, and left villages inaccessible.

"So far this year, 140 million people have been impacted in 28 flood-hit provinces, 1,072 have been killed and 619 people are missing," Shu Qingpeng, spokesman for China's flood control headquarters, said in an online briefing.

Shu warned that if rain continued to pour down on disaster-hit areas "the flood-control situation would no doubt get even more severe."

He added that "August and September are the months when typhoons frequently form and make landfall," which could aggravate the situation.

According to China's national meteorological centre, the northeast of the country -- already hard hit by flooding that has left more than 100 people dead or missing -- will be hit by more rain over the next 24 hours.

Shu warned that some large rivers in the nation were still swollen to dangerous levels, adding more than 160 cities across China were flooded, eight small reservoirs had collapsed and more than 1,000 reservoirs were at risk.

The overall situation has triggered fears China could see a repeat of the disastrous flooding of 1998, when heavy rain swelled the Yangtze, China's longest river, and many tributaries, leading to devastating levee collapses.

At least 4,150 people are thought to have died, 18 million were evacuated and millions of homes were destroyed in those floods, the country's worst in recent memory.

But Shu sought to ease concerns on Wednesday, saying a disaster on the scale of the 1998 flooding would likely be averted.

"No matter if you look at water flows, how much water went over warning levels, flood control standards in dams... or the current disaster situation, none of these can lead to a repeat of the serious floods in 1998," Shu said.

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Relief critical for flood-ravaged Pakistan
Islamabad, Pakistan (UPI) Aug 4, 2010
International aid agencies warned of disease outbreaks in Pakistan. UNICEF said at least 3 million people, more than one-third of whom are children, have been affected by the country's flooding, the worst in 80 years. Children are the most vulnerable and face a great threat from hunger, cholera and scabies, Dr. Muhammad Rafiq of UNICEF told London's Daily Mirror from Khyber Pakht ... read more

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