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China recovering from deadly rains

July 23, 2012 at 10:13 AM   |   Comments

BEIJING, July 23 (UPI) -- Heavy rain in 17 of China's 33 provinces since last week are to blame for 95 deaths and the evacuation of more than a half-million people, officials said.

The Civil Affairs Ministry said disasters caused by rain that began June 20 affected about 6.23 million people in 17 central province such as Beijing, Hebei, Shanxi, Sichuan and Guizhou, and forced about 567,000 evacuations, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

The ministry's statement reported 37 deaths in Beijing alone, as well as 17 deaths and 21 missing in Hebei. The ministry also said the storms destroyed 29,000 houses and damaged another 55,000.

Among the victims in Beijing, the city's information office said, 25 were drowned, six were killed when their homes collapsed, one was struck by lightning and five were electrocuted.

Weekend downpours submerged some power supply facilities, interrupting power in parts of the city, Xinhua said.

Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong said the city has a combination of old and new infrastructure, meaning some areas hit by the deluge had poor drainage facilities and were overwhelmed by floodwaters, China Daily said.

"We will continue to update our emergency plans, improve the construction of infrastructure facilities, upgrade our ability to mobilize rescue staff and promote people's safety awareness in the future," he said.

Saturday's downpour inundated the Chinese capital with 6.7 inches of rain and as much as 18 inches in Hebei, the heaviest in 61 years, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said.

About 30,000 people stranded in the mountainous areas of the region were rescued and transferred to safe areas after the storm made some roads impassible, China Daily reported.

More than 500 flights in and out of Beijing's international airport were canceled by the rainstorm, stranding at least 80,000 people, officials said.

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