1 million homeless as storms batter south

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am

Torrential rain, floods force evacuations in Hunan and Guangdong provinces

Heavy rain and floods in southern China have killed at least 13 people and left more than 1 million homeless - another sign that occurrences of extreme weather on the mainland are becoming more serious.

While floods and storms are common in the south, they are occurring more frequently and earlier in the year than before.

Torrential rain affected 1.3 million people in Hunan and caused extensive damage to buildings and crops, Red Net, an official news website in the province, said yesterday.

At least three people in the province were killed in the past three days and one was reported missing. Storms and floods have caused direct economic losses of 580 million yuan.

About 75,000 people had been cut off from drinking water and 4,784 fell sick because of the flooding. More than 3,800 buildings collapsed, the website said.

In nearby Guangdong, landslides and floods killed three people and left 290,000 people homeless, Xinhua reported. The direct economic losses were estimated at 92.2 million yuan.

Xinhua said nine cities and 45 towns in Guangdong were facing the threat of flooding. In Heyuan , more than 2,000 people were temporarily trapped by floods and had to be rescued.

The floods and landslides also caused extensive damage to roads, Xinhua said. More than 1,100 travellers were left stranded by the storms and rain.

In Guizhou , seven people were killed and four went missing because of the extreme weather. Xinhua said 235,000 people in 17 towns and 89 villages were forced to leave their home by heavy rain. The Guizhou government reported more than 117 million yuan of direct economic losses. Xinhua said the bad weather would persist for several more days.

The Guangdong Observatory warned that water levels were rising in several major rivers and might cause more flooding and landslides.

In central Sichuan province , meanwhile, drought has killed more than 2,000 people this year. Many climate experts have warned that these disasters are just a prelude to weather patterns likely to turn more extreme due to global warming.

More than 2,700 people died in weather disasters last year, with economic losses of 212 billion yuan, according to official figures. China is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, after the United States. Scientists have predicted it will overtake the US as the world's biggest source of carbon dioxide in the next two years as its economy continues to grow.