No relief in sight for China

Rains
continue to batter north western China already ravaged by deadly flooding and
massive landslides that have killed 1,117 people so far and left more than 627
others missing.

 The National Meteorological Centre warned there
was a “relatively large” chance of more landslides in the coming
days, as the rain was expected to grow heavier, with up to 3 1/2 inches
forecast for Friday.

The
chances of finding more survivors are falling, with troops and rescue teams,
joined by traumatized survivors, turning to recovering bodies and seeing to the
needs of the living. Clean drinking water was a primary concern, with most
local sources destroyed or too polluted to use.

Entire
communities in Gansu province’s Zhouqu district were swallowed up when the
debris-choked Bailong River jumped its banks Sunday, releasing wave after wave
of mud and rubble-strewn water. While torrential rains were the direct cause,
tree cutting that left the dry hills exposed and the weakening of cliff faces by
a massive 2008 earthquake were seen as contributing factors.

Buildings
were torn from their foundations, their lower floors blown out by the force of
the debris-laden water. Three villages comprising hundreds of households were
entirely buried and much of the county seat left submerged.

Crews
using explosives and excavators rushed to drain an unstable lake on the Bailong
upriver of Zhouqu, fearing more rain could cause a massive breach, bringing
more misery to the town.

“The
danger of the barrier lake collapsing has been basically eliminated,” Jiao
Yong, deputy vice minister of the Ministry of Water Resources said.

At
least 45,000 people have evacuated their homes, and the Ministry of Civil
Affairs reported the delivery of 30,000 tents to the area, with thousands more
on the way. Zhouqu has a population of 134,000, but it wasn’t clear how many
needed emergency shelter.

Flooding
in China has killed more than 2,000 people this year and caused tens of
billions of dollars in damage across 28 provinces and regions.

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