48 die as storms lash southern provinces

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2007, 12:00am

At least 48 people have been killed by storms that have lashed parts of the southern mainland in the past four days, with at least 37 people killed by lightning.

Southern areas and regions along the Yangtze River are notoriously prone to floods due to high summer rainfall.

The People's Daily reported yesterday that since Friday, incessant rain has inundated Guizhou , northern parts of Hunan and Jiangxi , central and eastern Hubei , Zhejiang , and Shanghai, with 12 people missing.

The fifth major storms of the summer so far have affected a total of 3.6 million people in these regions, displacing 73,000 and damaging 34,000 houses, including 8,100 that have collapsed.

The storms have also flooded 167,500 hectares of farmland and resulted in an estimated 1.06 billion yuan in economic losses.

In Jiangxi, one of the regions hardest hit, rain and hailstorms have battered central and northern parts of the province since Saturday night, killing 31 residents and displacing 13,800 people.

More than 1.9 million people in the province have been affected by the storms, and economic losses have reached 370 million yuan, with the farming sector bearing most of the brunt.

In Shangrao , Jiangxi, 16 residents have been killed - 14 by lightning and two when their homes collapsed, crushing them. Thunderstorms also killed two people in the provincial capital, Nanchang .

The Ministry of Civil Affairs has implemented the mainland's highest-level disaster response plan. Several special rescue teams are working in flood-stricken areas, and relief efforts are also under way.