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Shaanxi Flood Affects 510,000

Residents of the flood-stricken areas in Shaanxi, an inland province in Northwest China, can not go home yet as the water levels will remain high there until late this month.

With a third crest in Weihe River, the major tributary of Yellow River, passing at the Huaxian Hydrometric Station yesterday, water levels rose by 80 centimetres. This is even though heavy rain since August 24 over the province had stopped for three days, according to the provincial flood prevention headquarters source.

The headquarters said the flood will not be worse, because there is no more heavy rain in the following days, but the water covers a large area in Weinan in eastern Shaanxi and will remain for some time and some 510,000 people have to stay in their temporary homes.

"Some of the flood-stricken people are being housed in local government office buildings, hotels, schools and others are staying in tents provided by the local government, which has also provided them with food," the headquarters said in a release.

The provincial government has also conceived a plan to build temporary houses at high elevations for people in 50 villages, which were completely inundated by water in Huaxian County, to pass the coming winter. Government officials also announced the plan to provide food and other necessities for their living needs, the headquarters source said.

As of August 24, most parts of Shaanxi Province were hit by heavy rains which caused serious flooding in the Weihe River and the Hanjing, one of the major tributaries of the Yangtze River, causing great losses of both life and property.

The disaster hit 67 out a total of 108 counties and districts in Shaanxi. At present, over 4.9 million people have been affected by the disaster which has also killed 38, and caused direct economic loss valued at 4 billion yuan (US$481 million).

Since Shaanxi was hit by flooding and landslides caused by continuous heavy rain, the province had received more than 30 million yuan (US$3.63 million) worth of funds and materials from central and other provincial governments, and local people have also donated money and clothing to help flood-stricken residents, the headquarters said.

"With cool autumn weather coming, the flood-stricken people who have to stay in the thin tents will need quilts, cotton-padded clothes and other necessities for passing the coming winter, and now local people are being asked to lend a hand," according to an announcement from the headquarters.

And people who are suffering from the disaster are also in need of medicine and other supplies. At present, some patients afflicted with ophthalmia and dysentery are now receiving necessary medical treatment, the headquarters said.

Local epidemic prevention workers have spent every day disinfecting shelters for the displaced residents, but disinfection for all flood-hit areas can only be undertaken when water levels recede. The water is expected to recede by the end of this month or early next month if there is no heavy rain before then, the headquarters said.

(China Daily September 10, 2003)

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