At least 70 killed, aid for flood victims boosted
GUANGZHOU - Severe rainstorms that have killed at least 70 people since Wednesday are expected to continue in the southern and central parts of the country, with strong winds and hailstorms in some areas, meteorological authorities have said.
Inclement weather in the next two days will affect Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the China Meteorological Administration forecast on Sunday.
On Sunday, authorities sounded a yellow-level alert, two levels lower than the highest red alert, to warn of storms continuing in Guangdong, Hunan, Fujian, and Jiangxi provinces until Monday.
Torrential rain, gale and hail are also expected to hit the areas, the administration said.
Many affected areas, such as Yunnan and Guizhou, had just emerged from the worst drought in decades.
"Floods usually start in June, but South China has already entered its flood season. The biggest floods have yet to come," National Meteorological Center meteorologist Sun Jun told Xinhua News Agency. The storms have already affected 2.55 million residents and forced 250,000 people to be relocated, Xinhua reported.
The storms have triggered flash floods and mudslides in the past few days. They have swollen rivers, burst dikes, threatened reservoirs as well as damaged highways, bridges and power and telecommunication facilities.
The storms affected up to 100,000 hectares of arable land and leveled 9,900 houses, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.
In Guangdong, heavy rains trapped more than 5,000 people in mountain areas in the villages of Minzhi, Youxi and Shaoguan. Floods also cut off power and food supplies to Minzhi village.
Since Friday, downpours of up to 107.7mm in Guangzhou claimed six residents' lives and submerged thousands of cars in garages and streets, authorities said.
"The road down at the foot of the building I live in turned into a river. When I waded to the Shiejiedaguan bus station, I found the street like a vast ocean," said a resident in the city's Tianhe district.
On Saturday, the Guangdong bureau of China insurance regulatory commission said 13,000 claims of compensation had already been filed for flood-hit cars in the past two days. The compensation amount is expected to exceed 125 million yuan ($ 18.3 million).
About 90 car owners who failed to reach agreements with property management companies on the liability for the damage to their cars reportedly blocked traffic in the city's Baiyun district. Police placed eight of them under administrative custody.
Heavy rain also delayed up to 174 flights at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport on Sunday.
The rain is forecast to continue in the city until Monday.
Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang pledged all-out efforts for rescue and relief work in the affected areas.
Local authorities in the affected regions are also required to monitor the development of rainstorms to boost early warning efforts, said a statement from the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
Authorities have also allocated 31 million yuan to help resettle flood victims and rebuild collapsed houses in Chongqing municipality.
Xinhua contributed to this story.