China floods drive 700,000 from homes
Heavy rains kill at least 20 and topple houses and flood roads in south
The Associated Press, July 6, 2009
BEIJING - Heavy flooding in southern China killed at least 20 people, while blocked roads left some 300 teenagers stranded at a school with limited supplies of food and water, state media reported.
About 700,000 people have fled their homes in southern China after heavy rains toppled houses, flooded roads and damaged a dam, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Flood waters had blocked the entrances to the Hemu Town Middle School in the Guangxi region and rendered nearby roads impassable. By late Sunday, authorities had managed to restore the power supply and get food and water to the students, an education official, Luo Enwu, told Xinhua.
CCTV said Sunday that floodwaters along a major commercial thoroughfare elsewhere in Rongshui were more than eight feet deep. The report said it was the highest water level the county has seen in a decade.
Flood control officials used boats to deliver food, mineral water and other supplies to the school on Saturday, including pumps to lower the water level, according to a Rongshui County official surnamed Lu.
She said she did not know how long the children, aged from 13 to 15 years, had been stuck in the building.
By Friday, 80 percent of the county was inundated, causing the Rongjiang river to overflow its banks and forcing the relocation of more than 70,000 people, Lu said.
In Hunan province, floods have killed eight people and forced 140,000 to relocate. Five people have died in southeastern Fujian province, two others were missing, and 22,000 people have been evacuated, Xinhua said.
An additional five people were killed in Jiangxi province. Another 230,000 people were forced from their homes, Xinhua said.
In Guangdong, two construction workers were killed when a rain-soaked wall collapsed.
Heavy rains have battered the region since Wednesday, forcing about 310,000 people in Guangxi to relocate, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The rains began to subside in parts of Guangxi on Sunday, but river levels remained high, the report said.
CCTV showed flooded Rongshui streets, where the signboards of restaurants and shops were all that could be seen above the water. Mattresses, household items and other debris drifted in the water,
passing residents on wooden rowboats as people peered out from second-floor balconies and windows.
The county government estimated the damage at 210 million yuan ($31 million), Xinhua said.
The rain also destroyed a 44-foot section of a dike near the base of the Kama Reservoir in Guangxi, Xinhua said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.