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500 Dead In China As Worst Floods For Years Sweep Country

A boy plays in flooded waters on the banks on the Yangtze river in Wuhan, 24 July 2007, in an area that was, until a few days ago, Wuhan port's flower and bird market beneath the Yangtze River bridge in central China's Hubei province. Record rainfall in China's southwest Chongqing municipality recently meant the opening of sluice gates 22 July at the Three Gorges dam in Yichang, upriver from Wuhan, to release the water downstream. Weeks of torrential rains in several provinces across China have made this year's summer rainy season one of the deadliest in years. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) July 30, 2007
More than 500 people have been killed in some of the most devastating floods to hit China for a decade, the Red Cross said Monday, launching an emergency appeal for aid to the millions left homeless. "Over the past two months, more than 200 million people have been affected and over 500 have been killed nationwide by some of the worst flooding to hit the country in the last 10 years," the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement.

Nearly five million residents have been evacuated from their homes because water levels have risen dangerously high along China's main rivers, while more flash floods, downpours and landslides are expected in the coming days, the statement said.

High temperatures have made life even more uncomfortable for those displaced.

"There's an urgent need for rice, clean drinking water, shelter, clothing, medical services and disinfectant," said Gu Qinghui, the federation's regional disaster management delegate for East Asia.

"It's the rural poor who are suffering the most, including many farmers," he said, as the Red Cross launched a preliminary emergency appeal for 9.5 million Swiss francs (7.7 million dollars, 5.7 million euros).

The Red Cross warned that it could take months or years for the poorest communities to rebuild and recover.

"When you look at the economic growth of the country, it's easy to forget that outside of the major cities, the rural areas are home to many families living in utter poverty," said Ewa Eriksson, the federation's acting regional head of delegation in Beijing.

"We don't want this disaster to become forgotten or neglected because the world's attention is elsewhere, or because there's a perception that help isn't required, because hundreds of thousands of people are in desperate need of assistance," Eriksson said.

China's death toll from natural disasters this year topped 700 by mid-July, with about half the fatalities coming this month in flood related-disasters, according to state press.

In 2005 more than 1,000 people were killed in China's annual flood season, while in 1998, 4,185 people lost their lives in the deadliest rainy season of the past decade.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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More Than 70 Die In Weekend Floods, Rains In South Asia
Guwahati, India (AFP) Jul 30, 2007
More than 70 people were killed after heavy rains and floods across South Asia, while over one million were left stranded by rising waters on the weekend, officials said Sunday. Several days of torrential downpours combined with melting Himalayan snow caused flooding in low lying areas of Nepal, India's northern states and neighbouring Bangladesh, with rivers expected to crest in coming days. India's northeast was among the worst affected and the army was deployed for rescue operations in Assam state on Sunday, officials said.

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