Floods worsen in China, S. Asia

BEIJING: Thirteen people have died, thousands of villages are besieged and more than a million residents are stranded in the worst floods since 1991 in China's Huai River valley, officials said yesterday. 

Ministry of Civil Affairs statistics showed that the three provinces in the valley – Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan – have suffered economic losses of nearly 7.2bil yuan (RM3.3bil). 

Most of the destruction has been in central China's Anhui province, where eight people have been killed and 18 million affected, said provincial civil affairs department official Wang Xintao. 

“It's the worst flooding since 1991 in terms of the volume of rainfall and water level,” Wang said. 

The official Xinhua news agency said more than 5,700 villages in Anhui are besieged by floodwaters. 

Wang said 378,900 people living in the flooded valley have been relocated to higher ground, but even highlands were surrounded by water, leaving 1.14 million residents there stranded. 

They were not under immediate danger, but many of them were living in tents distributed by disaster relief officials. 

Severe damage was also inflicted on farmland, with more than one million hectares ruined. Agricultural damage alone was estimated to be 3.4bil yuan (RM1.6bil). 

A provincial flood control official said on Monday more than 5,000 people had been injured or became ill in the floods. 

To tackle the problem, the ministry has allocated 37mil yuan (RM17mil) in disaster relief funds to Anhui and sent 11,000 tents to Anhui and Jiangsu. 

Flood waters also brought death and destruction to the central province of Henan, further upstream along the Huai, one of China's major rivers. 

In India, the mighty Brahmaputra river burst its banks at several points early yesterday, bringing to 1.4 million the number of people made homeless by floods here and in Bangladesh, as disease, rising waters and landslides claimed 16 more lives. 

Eleven people were killed near the Indian hill station Darjeeling when landslides triggered by days of rain buried five houses, police said. 

The landslides cut off the road between the British-era summer resort and the metropolis of Calcutta, police inspector general for West Bengal state Chayan Mukherjee said. 

To the east, the 2,900km Brahmaputra river broke its embankments around the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, submerging roads and smashing down mud embankments. 

Local officials estimated 200,000 more people were left homeless yesterday across five districts of Assam. 

One million people had already been stranded by the floods in the past weekend in Assam, according to the provincial government. 

Another 200,000 people from 121 villages in the eastern Indian state of Bihar have also been affected, according to a statement by the province's relief department. 

In Bangladesh, waters were rolling down from the flooded north to the low-lying heart of the country, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre in the capital Dhaka. 

Officials at the flood centre said the flooding should abate in the northern areas within a few days as rains subsided. But as the water moved south, the drenched north feared water-borne disease. 

The mass-circulation Ittefaq said a six-year-old boy and an elderly villager died of diarrhoeal disease in the north-western Gaibandha district after waters from flash floods began to recede. 

Meanwhile, monsoon rains pounded southern Pakistan, damaging dozens of houses and killing at least 23 people, police and rescue officials said yesterday. 

Most of the victims died when their homes collapsed. Many were still buried under the debris of collapsed mud houses in slum areas of the southern port city of Karachi, the capital of Pakistan's southern Sindh province, police official Altaf Shah said. – Agencies  

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