BBC News Online
January 2, 2006
At least 205 people are dead, and hundreds more are missing, in catastrophic floods in north-western China that local reports describe as the worst in the area for more than a century.
At least 205 people are dead, and hundreds more are missing, in catastrophic floods in north-western China which some local reports describe as the worst in the area for more than a century. The area has seen a week of torrential rain, and in the worst affected area – south of the city of Xian – close to half a metre of rain fell in two days, in what is normally an arid part of China. Rivers that had been dry for years turned into raging torrents, sweeping away roads, destroying tens of thousands of homes, and bringing down a railway bridge in Xian just three minutes after a train crossed it. A huge rescue operation is under way, including army units specially formed to deal with flood emergencies, but the number of dead is expected to rise. Farmers drowned Some of those swept away by the floodwaters were farmers who had planted their crops in the bottom of dried out riverbeds – taking advantage of three years of drought in the area. The main east-west railway line linking China’s coast to its vast inland provinces has been cut, power supplies have been interrupted, and thousands of acres of farmland are flooded. The flooding in Shaanxi alone has washed out 13 bridges, 30 kilometres (20 miles) of highways and railway lines and has wrecked 29 hydropower stations, said a spokeswoman for the Shaanxi provincial flood control centre. "Casualties will certainly increase as the investigation continues," the spokeswoman said. Several provinces have been severely hit by the floods:
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