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Singapore to step up anti-flood measures after deluge

Eight dead in Gambia after flood washes passenger van away
Banjul (AFP) July 19, 2010 - At least eight people died on Monday in Gambia when a van carrying 22 passengers got caught in heavy rains and washed away by floodwaters, police said. The incident occurred when the heavy downpour of rain destroyed a bridge in the village of Sare Alpha village in the country's southeast, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) away from the capital, Banjul. "So far eight people have been confirmed dead while others are receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the accident," police said. At least 42 people died due to heavy rainfall in West Africa in June, with 31 deaths in Ghana alone, the UN said earlier this month from its regional office in Dakar.

Romania flood death toll rises to 26
Bucharest (AFP) July 19, 2010 - A woman died after being swept away by raging waters in Romania, becoming the 26th person killed by flooding and storms in the past month, officials said. The victim in her 50s was rescued by local residents in the central town of Belin and taken to hospital but died several hours later, said Gyorgy Ervin, head of the local administration. Prime Minister Emil Boc said separately that the cost of the damage caused by the floods which have hit Romania since June 21 would run into several hundred million euros. He said that 37 out of Romania's 41 regions had been affected and 6,979 houses damaged, with 1,033 of them needing to be completely rebuilt.
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) July 19, 2010
The Singapore government vowed Monday to improve drainage and step up alert systems after parts of the city-state were hit by flash floods over the weekend, damaging homes and businesses.

Yaacob Ibrahim, the environment and water resources minister, told parliament it was "unrealistic" to expect Singapore to be completely flood-free but said the government would review major drainage systems.

He blamed intense rainfall from squalls and Typhoon Conson, as well as prevailing "La Nina" conditions that trigger wet weather, for three flash floods since June.

"Climate change could add a new level of complexity to this," he said.

Singapore used to be an exception in a region plagued by natural disasters but floods in the past two months -- including two in the posh Orchard Road shopping belt -- have dented its reputation for top-notch urban management.

It has already spent two billion Singapore dollars (1.43 billion US) in the past 30 years to improve drainage infrastructure, Yaacob said.

"As an island in the tropics, Singapore is especially prone to intense rain storms," the minister said in response to questions from MPs.

"We continue to take a serious view of flooding incidents," he said, adding that road levels would be raised if necessary.

The public utilities board has invited businesses to participate in its flood alert system, which works by sending text messages to subscribers when high water levels are detected by sensors in major canals.

The same system could also be made available to the public, Yacob said.

earlier related report
Dozens dead, missing in China floods: officials
Beijing (AFP) July 19, 2010 - Floods and landslides triggered by torrential downpours in China have left scores of people dead and missing in recent days, officials said Monday, as water levels in major rivers reached dangerous highs.

Eight people were confirmed dead and 57 were still missing after landslides Sunday buried parts of the city of Ankang in the northern province of Shaanxi, the local government said on its website.

Water levels in the Han river in Ankang reached 50-year highs after rains which began on Friday pummelled the region, toppling more than 6,000 homes and forcing the evacuation of over 100,000 people, the government said.

Local authorities were scrambling to organise search and rescue operations, while the exact toll was still being compiled, it added.

In neighbouring Sichuan province in China's southwest, the Jialing and the Qu rivers, both tributaries to the Yangtze, exceeded warning levels by up to nine metres (30 feet), flooding numerous towns and cities, press reports said.

State television showed the swollen rivers overflowing banks and inundating urban areas with brown, muddy waters, forcing residents to evacuate or seek shelter on the upper floors of buildings.

At least 123 people were killed, missing or buried due to floods, landslides and other rain-related disasters in Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces since last Thursday, with more than 700,000 evacuated, the civil affairs ministry said.

That toll appeared to include the Ankang landslides.

It adds to several hundred already reported killed or missing in floods nationwide this year, especially in June and July, when China began experiencing some of its worst flooding in more than a decade.

Persistent heavy rainfall has also caused water along the Yangtze -- the nation's longest river -- to exceed danger levels, the civil affairs ministry said Monday.

State media reports said water levels in the upper reaches of the Yangtze had already surpassed those of 1998, when more than 4,150 people were killed and 18 million evacuated in China's worst flooding in recent memory.

The massive water flow on the Yangtze was also posing the biggest challenge to the Three Gorges Dam -- the world's largest hydroelectric project -- since it was completed in 2006, the China Daily newspaper said.

More heavy rain was forecast along the Yangtze's upper reaches, which would raise the flood pressures on major lakes downstream like the Dongting and Poyang, where water levels were already near warning marks, officials warned.

The government had previously said that as of July 13, 567 people were killed and 251 missing in floods nationwide since the start of the year, with economic losses nearing 116 billion yuan (17 billion dollars).

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146 dead in China rainstorms and floods: state media
Beijing (AFP) July 16, 2010
Torrential rain and severe flooding have left at least 146 people dead and 40 missing in ten Chinese provinces, mostly along the Yangtze River following recent storms, state media said Friday. The Xinhua news agency said that as of 4:00pm (0800 GMT) Friday, rain-triggered floods had affected some 38.2 million people and 1.3 million had been evacuated. The latest toll is near 40 percent ... read more

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