The Heat Is Online

China Flood Claims 750 Lives, Affects 57 Million People

China floods death toll rises, June 25, 2002

More than 750 people are now feared dead in flooding that has devastated large areas of China in recent weeks.

Official government figures have put the confirmed death toll at 453 people, with 151 deaths in the worst-hit province of Shaanxi.

But a further 300 people in the province are still missing, a week after a senior official said they were not expected to be found alive.

It is still early in the flooding season, which lasts well into September, prompting fears that more people could die this year than in 1998, when the worst flooding in half a century killed at least 2,000 people.

More than 57 million people have already been affected by the flooding, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Homes destroyed

The floods have hit a vast section of the country, from Shaanxi in the north through to Sichuan to the south-west and Fujian and Jiangxi provinces to the south-east, the ministry said.

More than two million hectares (five million acres) of crops have been damaged.

In Jiangxi province, where up to 20,000 people were trapped by rising floodwaters last week when a dyke burst, 150,000 people had been left homeless, the ministry said.

In Shaanxi, floods and landslides have snapped power and telephone lines and covered several major roads. Officials estimate the damage could run into millions of dollars.

The government has supplied medicines, money and supplies to the stricken areas, with task forces mobilised to deal with rescue efforts.

Many regions have been bracing themselves for more torrential rain. Last week some areas around the flood-prone Yangtze River, received about 300 millimetres (12 inches) of rain.

Since the 1998 flooding China has made flood control a priority.

Measures include:

* Banning tree felling

* Urging farmers to plant more trees

* Forming special army units to combat flooding on major rivers

*Pressing ahead with the controversial Three Gorges Dam