Photo taken on June 18, 2011, shows the Nanmenhe Park flooded in rain water in Qianjiang City, central China's Hubei Province. Qianjiang was pounded with torrential rain on Friday, leaving many roads flooded in deep water. (Xinhua/Wu Yanjun)
GUANGZHOU, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Heavy rains and ensuing floods continue to batter southern China Saturday, taking their toll in at least three provinces.
A middle school student in Jiexi County of Guangdong Province died when fencing collapsed in heavy rains Friday, a spokesman with the office of the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said Saturday.
In the southwestern Guizhou Province, eight people died in rain-triggered disasters, including two killed by lightning strikes.
Among the dead were two students in Wuchuan County who were swept away by flash floods on their way home Friday night, the provincial government said in a press release.
It said 24 counties were inundated, affecting 350,000 people.
In Sichuan Province, the downpour that began on Thursday has killed eight and left 29 missing, according to latest figures provided by the provincial flood control office at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The third round of rainfall since the flood season began on June 9 battered at least 10 southern provinces, swelling rivers and causing landslides that forced the evacuation of thousands.
The Tianhe Airport in Wuhan, capital of the central Hubei Province, was closed for an hour midday Saturday amid thunderstorm, forcing at least eight incoming flights to be diverted to neighboring cities for landing.
Heavy rain has swollen the Wuhan section of the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway. In the 21 hours from 8 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday, the water level rose by 0.62 meter to 21.81 meters, the city's weather bureau said.
Though the water level is well under the 25-meter flood alarm, the local flood control office has warned of floods and ensuing geological disasters.
Downtown Wuhan was also inundated Saturday. Rain water on Xudong Street was knee deep and many vehicles were stranded.
Heavy rains also battered the eastern provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang, forcing a total of 370,000 people to be evacuated from their homes.
In Zhejiang, a leading manufacturing base, nearly 1,000 businesses were closed and 403 roads were cut off by heavy rains.
Water levels in the Qiantang River in Zhejiang rose to their highest levels in more than 50 years, forcing local authorities to close the river to boats for nearly 100 hours until Saturday noon.
Parts of the river reopened at 11 a.m. as water levels temporarily dropped after a major flood peak passed on Friday.
However, local authorities warned that the river may be closed again, as rainfall continues in the province on Saturday.
The National Meteorological Center(NMC) on Saturday kept its rainstorm alert at "orange," the second-highest level, due to the persistent downpour hitting at least 10 southern provinces.
The observatory said heavy rainstorms will hit provinces along the Yangtze River in the next 24 hours, with downpours in parts of Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
China has a four-color rainstorm warning system, with red being the most serious and followed by orange, yellow and blue.
The NMC urged local authorities to take emergency measures against rainstorms, including suspending outdoor operations and cutting outdoor power supplies in potentially dangerous areas. It has also called for prevention of possible torrential flooding and mudslides.