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Hunan Mountain Torrents Kill 47, 50 Still Missing

At least 47 people have died and 50 are still missing after torrential rains in Hunan Province flooded mountain village homes that collapsed as their occupants slept.


Almost 55,000 people have been affected by the devastation.


All communications, traffic and power lines have been cut to Taizhimiao Township, the worst hit in Xinshao County.


The Beijing-based State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters verified reports on the season's disasters in western parts of the central province.


"Downpours have, since Tuesday, pounded 24 counties and cities across the province with daily precipitation recorded in five of them up to 100 millimeters," sources for the headquarters said.


"Torrents of water rushed down the mountain in the small hours of the morning, flooding houses in 10 villages dotted across three townships in Xinshao County, with more than 30 houses collapsing on farmers who were fast asleep," local sources said.


"Damage caused by the disaster is still being assessed," the sources said, adding that disaster relief teams have been mobilized by local authorities.


The flood season has well and truly begun in south China and rains are expected nationwide over the next three months, accompanied by typhoons in coastal areas.


"From June to August, two massive rain belts are expected from the south along the Yangtze River to the north on the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River," said Qin Dahe, a top official with the China Meteorological Administration.


In the north, the rain belt is likely to hit the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, northern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and southern parts of northeast China.


In the south, rains are expected to hang over the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, vast areas between the Huaihe and Yangtze rivers, and regions south of the Yangtze with potential flooding likely to batter the middle and lower reaches.


Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng urged local governments in flood-prone areas to get their anti-flood schemes ready and to prepare themselves for much worse floods this summer.


(China Daily June 2, 2005)

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