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China flood toll hits 370

Chinese President Hu Jintao has ordered the stepping up of efforts to fight massive floods that have killed at least 370 people nationwide this year.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2003 11:14 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Chinese President Hu Jintao has ordered the stepping up of efforts to fight massive floods that have killed at least 370 people nationwide this year.

The central government also Friday warned local leaders they were responsible for ensuring that damage is minimized.

Hu's comments were pasted on the front pages of all major Chinese dailies as the government announced the annual flood season was in full swing, while warning that anti-flood efforts along the central Huai River had reached a critical juncture.

"Responsible comrades at all levels of party and government and every department must strengthen leadership... and in order to win the battle must prepare for even larger floods and ensure that anti-flood work and disaster relief efforts are victorious," Hu was quoted as saying.

Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, in charge of anti-flood efforts, added that "each area would be held responsible" for battling the seasonal phenomenon.

Despite a rising death toll in the southern areas of Chongqing municipality and Guizhou, Hunan, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, government officials appeared more concerned with flooding along the Huai River, where water levels have reached 10-year highs.

From June 20 to July 10, 16 deaths were recorded in the Huai River region that covers the three central-eastern provinces of Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu.

Economic losses have already hit 18 billion yuan (2.2 billion dollars), the the Civil Affairs Ministry said in an overnight report.

More than 400 millimeters (16 inches) of rain has fallen during the period, bringing disaster to an area that is home to 150 million people and is one of China's major food basket regions.

According to the ministry, over 47 million people in the region are affected by the floods, while 2.3 million people have been surrounded by flood waters and 843,000 evacuated.

Meanwhile, a civil affairs official in southern Guizhou province said flooding was still devastating mountainous areas of the province where 79 people, 13 more than reported earlier this week, have died due to flooding.

More than 1,000 people have been left homeless.

The provincial government estimated economic losses to be around 2.4 billion yuan, with 700 million yuan of losses in the agricultural sector alone.

Much of the flooding was along the Wujiang river and its tributaries which flow into the Yangtze River in neighboring Chongqing, where 28 people have died after weeks of rain.

Civil Affairs officials in Hunan, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, where the death tolls due to flooding were put at 53, 39, and 32 respectively earlier this week, Friday refused to update the figures.

Other deaths have been reported elsewhere.

First Published: Jul 11, 2003 11:14 IST