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Worst flood in decade causes havoc in NE China

English.news.cn   2013-08-20 20:14:06            

SHENYANG, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The bodies of 78-year-old Bai Hengshu and his wife Wang Chengzhen were dug out of the thick mud debris in the floor of their house.

Tears streaming, Liu Fang, their daughter-in-law, filled a pot with rainwater to wash away the silt debris covering their faces.

The elderly couple was buried by debris in their house on Henan Street in Nankouqian Township after flood water suddenly inundated their house on Friday evening. Two younger sons and neighbors retrieved their bodies on Sunday afternoon.

By 4 p.m. Monday, 85 people were confirmed dead and 105 were missing in the worst flood to hit northeast China in more than a decade. Some 3.74 million people were affected. In worst-hit Fushun City, Liaoning Province, floods have left 54 dead and 97 missing.

Nankouqian Township, one of the hardest-hit areas in Qingyuan Manchu Autonomous County, saw precipitation of 449 mm on Friday, about half of Fushun City's average annual rainfall. Xinbin Manchu Autonomous County and Fushun County, also under the jurisdiction of Fushun City, were also seriously affected.

Floodwater from the Hunhe river devastated many houses in Nankouqian. Only three walls of villager Sun Xiaoxia's house remained standing, and the roof completely collapsed into the mud debris following the havoc.

Sun said she left home and visited her relatives before the flood arrived. Seven of Sun's family members, including her husband and children, are unaccounted for. She feared her family members might have been buried in the debris.

More than 30 soldiers were removing the debris and searching for her family. Neighbors and local township officials tried to comfort the sorrowful mother.

"On Friday, my father went to Fushun City to visit a relative. I visited my mother in her home. On Friday evening, I returned to my own house to cook. Later, floodwater gushed out of the embankments and my mother was swept away," said 54-year-old Guo Shouying, a resident of Nanzamu Township in Xinbin.

"The neighbors heard her desperate calls for help, but the flood was so huge that no one dared to swim into the water to rescue her," Guo said in tears.

The body of her 73-year-old mother, Tang Rumei, was found about 100 meters away from her home the next day.

"One hand pressed her nose and her mouth was wide open, she was probably choked by water," said Guo.

President Xi Jinping has demanded all-out efforts to put people's lives first in combatting the floods. Premier Li Keqiang has also urged local authorities to relocate people and help them during the post-flood reconstruction.

More than 120,000 people, including nearly 10,000 soldiers, have joined the rescue and relief efforts in Fushun City.

"The dead cannot be revived. Those alive should be strong and go on with their lives. The disaster is very serious, but we can live through it with help from each other," said Zhao Guogang, 54, in Nankouqian Township.

"We picked some grain from the collapsed houses and the government also distributed drinking water and food," said Xu Yan, who is anxiously waiting for information about his father and daughter in the same township. The two were washed away in the floods and remain missing.

Official data show that floods have forced the relocation of 360,000 people, toppled more than 60,000 houses and affected 787,200 hectares of farmland in the northeast region.

TESTS AHEAD

The floods have not yet ended as Heilongjiang Province, which neighbors Russia, has been on high alert with several major rivers swelling above warning levels.

The stretch of the Heilong River in Jiameng County exceeded its record historical levels on Tuesday, putting pressure on flood control efforts, according to the Heilongjiang Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Floods have left 11 dead and three missing in Heilongjiang, with more than 140,000 people displaced.

The Heilong River, known in Russia as the Amur River, runs along the Sino-Russian border. The river's water level reached 100.56 meters in Jiameng, surpassing the record high of 100.47 meters in 1984.

The Heilong River's water level has hit 99.59 meters in Luobei County, 1.79 meters above the warning level, and 89.06 meters in Fuyuan County, 1.56 meters higher than the warning level.

The Heilong River's water level in Jiameng County has been rising by 20 cm to 30 cm each day, said Wang Xueming, a flood control expert in Jiameng.

Meanwhile, the water level of the Songhua River, the largest tributary of Heilong, reached 118.27 meters in Harbin, the Heilongjiang provincial capital, on Tuesday. The level exceeded the warning level by 17 cm.

In Jilin Province, which neighbors Heilongjiang and Liaoning, the latest rainstorms have left 16 people dead and five missing. More than 120,000 people were evacuated in the province.

Editor: Yang Lina
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