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Updated: July 26, 2010 19:05 IST

Floods bring dozens more deaths to China; worse to come

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RESCUE MISSION: Chinese soldiers move a speedboat during a mission to rescue villagers trapped in floodwaters in Luanchuan county, in central China's Henan province, on Sunday. Photo: AP.
RESCUE MISSION: Chinese soldiers move a speedboat during a mission to rescue villagers trapped in floodwaters in Luanchuan county, in central China's Henan province, on Sunday. Photo: AP.

China reported at least 60 new deaths from floods and landslides on Monday as experts warned of serious flood risks along several major rivers this week.

At least 37 people died and 19 were missing near the city of Luoyang in the central province of Henan, after the heaviest rain for about 50 years hit the area over the weekend.

Seven counties in Luoyang recorded more than 20 centimetres of rain in just 25 hours from Friday night, with some 200,000 affected by flooding, the semi—official China News Service reported.

In the south—western province of Yunnan, at least 11 people died and 11 were missing following a landslide caused by heavy rain early Monday, the agency said.

In the central province of Hubei, officials said the flood risk was “very severe” at the Danjiangkou reservoir on the Han river, a tributary of the Yangtze.

The reservoir’s water level was forecast to rise to at least 155 metres on Tuesday, six metres above the danger level.

On Sunday, Danjiangkou recorded its highest flow since 1983, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Premier Wen Jiabao warned officials in the flood—hit northern province of Shaanxi over the weekend to prepare for “more serious floods and disasters” in the coming weeks.

Another 13 people died in floods over the last three days in Yichang city, a port on the Yangtze just below the Three Gorges Dam.

Another flood peak is expected at the dam on Tuesday, reports said, prompting officials to order 24—hour monitoring of vulnerable downstream areas near Wuhan, the Hubei provincial capital.

In a report over the weekend, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said its officials visited two of Hubei’s worst—hit prefectures, Xianning and Jingzhou.

Some people in Hubei were comparing this summer to 1998 when 40,000 people died in the worst flooding in China’s modern history, the IFRC said.

“The water was still a metre high and people have to cross their fields by boat to retrieve belongings from their homes,” Gu Qinghui, the IFRC’s regional disaster management coordinator, said in the report.

“Many were taken by surprise by the intensity and speed of the flooding,” Mr. Gu said.

He said most people in Hubei told IFRC staff that food was their most pressing need.

“Over the coming months, the Red Cross aims to support 12,000 of the worst affected families in this area with food as well as personal items lost in the floods such as quilts,” Mr. Gu said. “The priority is to get them back on their feet as soon as possible.”

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