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Floods, Typhoon Kill 86, Wreak Havoc

Floods, landslides and the strongest typhoon to hit in a quarter of a century have killed at least 86 people in China with many others still missing, residents and local officials said on Thursday.

About 20,000 people were keeping vigil round the clock on the swollen Weihe river in case it breached flood defences, a local official said. The Weihe, the Yellow River's biggest tributary, has already burst its banks in five places in the northwestern province of Shaanxi.

Resulting floods and landslips have killed 38 people and 34 were missing, he said. About 180,000 people have been evacuated to higher ground since the heavy rains began a week ago.

About 25,000 people were laying sandbags along the banks, he said.

"The river's at its highest level ever," a flood control official told reporters by telephone. "There's 34 missing people and little hope of finding them alive."

Floods have also killed at least 10 people in the neighbouring province of Henan.

In southern Guangdong, advertising billboards flew through the air, trees and power poles were ripped from the ground and streets flooded as a typhoon swept through Tuesday and Wednesday after narrowly missing Hong Kong.

Typhoon Dujuan, the strongest storm to hit the Pearl River delta since 1979, killed 38 people. Many of the victims died on a Shenzhen construction site where a half-finished building collapsed.

Shenzhen, Huizhou, Shanwei and Shantou in eastern Guangdong were the hardest hit.

About 1,000 people had been injured, and local television said 30 percent of trees along the coast in the path of the storm had been ripped up by the roots.

The direct economic losses caused by the typhoon are set at more than two billion yuan (US$242 million).

(China Daily September 4, 2003)

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