China declares day of mourning

August 14, 2010 12:00 am

, BEIJING, Aug 14 – China on Saturday announced a national day of mourning as millions in the country\’s west struggled with more rain and the aftermath of mudslides that have killed more than 1,150 people.

Authorities warned torrential rains would continue into Sunday and said further flash floods, landslides and floating debris continued to pose dangers in Gansu and Sichuan provinces, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Flags were to fly at half-mast on Sunday and public entertainment was to be suspended for the day of mourning to express condolences for the mudslide victims, China\’s State Council, or Cabinet, said Saturday.

The heavy rains have affected more than 305 million people and caused 1.7 billion dollars in economic losses, the report said, citing the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters agency.

The report did not give details on how the vast numbers of people have been affected.

In mudslide-stricken Zhouqu, a remote mountain town in Gansu province in China\’s northwest, 588 people were still missing after last weekend\’s avalanche of mud and rocks, which levelled an area five kilometres (three miles) long and 300 metres (1,000 feet) wide.

The official death toll in Zhouqu stood at 1,156 as of Friday.

Health authorities said survivors of the deadly floods and landslides in Zhouqu faced a grim situation after clinics were damaged and vaccines ruined.

However, relief workers continued to gradually restore water, power and telecommunication services in Zhouqu, Xinhua reported Saturday.

Meanwhile work continued to clear Gansu\’s Bailong River, which overflowed after it was blocked by debris, triggering fears that further downpours could bring more flooding.

Elsewhere in Gansu, new floods and landslides killed 29 people and left 27 missing in the cities of Longnan and Tianshui close to Zhouqu, Xinhua said.

About 10,600 residents in Longnan were evacuated after more than 150 millimetres (six inches) of rain fell overnight on Wednesday.

Floods also have killed at least nine people and left 12 missing in Gansu\’s neighboring province of Sichuan over the past two days.

The mudslides in Zhouqu are the latest in a string of weather-related disasters across China. More than 2,100 people have been left dead or missing and 12 million evacuated nationwide, not including the toll from the Zhouqu incident.

The civil affairs ministry said Friday it had not calculated a new nationwide flood death toll.

China\’s meteorological agency also warned Saturday heavy rains would return to the country\’s northeastern regions after several days of respite, issuing an alert for the northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang.

Since June, rain-triggered floods had left 85 people dead and 67 others missing in Jilin, according to the local flood control authorities.


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