More than 80 dead, missing in China floods

Torrential rains from Typhoon Kaemi left more than 80 people dead or missing in China on Thursday, with a military barracks swept away, thousands of homes destroyed and rivers bursting their banks.

Six people were confirmed killed and another 38 soldiers and their relatives were missing after floods destroyed the military barracks in the eastern province of Jiangxi on Wednesday, the state flood control headquarters said.

President Hu Jintao called for “prompt and all-out efforts” to find those missing from the barracks, it said in a report on its website.

The official Xinhua news agency put the latest death toll at 25, with 53 missing. However, local officials gave a higher tally of the number of people missing.

Jiangxi was one of the areas worst hit by Kaemi, which struck mainland China on Tuesday night before weakening into a tropical storm. Officials said nearly 10 000 homes had been destroyed by floods in the province and more than 400 000 people were affected.

Power supplies to more than 20 000 households were cut off after mountain torrents seriously damaged electricity networks in Shangyou county, the worst-hit area in Jiangxi, Xinhua said.

In neighbouring Fujian province, gales, rainstorms, floods, landslides and mud-rock flows from Kaemi destroyed 116 000 houses and ruined 48 700ha of crops, Xinhua said.

Aside from the military barracks disaster, 17 other people had been killed in Jiangxi and 15 more were missing, Xinhua said, citing the latest official statistics.

Television footage showed rivers overflowing their banks and sweeping through valleys and lowlands.

State press said four people were killed in flood-related landslides in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Hainan over the past two days.

In Hunan, province more than 10cm of rain had fallen in some areas since Tuesday, the state flood headquarters said.

More than 1,38-million people in Chenzhou were affected by Kaemi’s rains, while 6 000 homes collapsed due to flooding and 280 000 people were evacuated.

Across south and south-east China, about one million people had been evacuated from their homes.

Worse was expected to come this week with the meteorological administration warning of more rain in much of the south and south-east until Friday night.

Typhoon Kaemi came almost immediately after the end of Tropical Storm Bilis, which claimed more than 600 lives in the same areas of China during a 10-day downpour.—AFP

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