420 workers trapped in floods in China
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 04, 2010, 20:11
Beijing: Over 400 workers remained trapped in the mountains of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Wednesday, a week after floods cut transport links to the area, even as incessant rains have so far left an estimated 1,072 people dead and 619 missing since early this year.

Continuous floods and high winds had hampered rescue work, an official with the regional government and head of the emergency rescue team Ili Ismail said.

Rescuers were still unable to approach the flooded Ruoqiang County in the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin, as of today, he added.

"They will hopefully reach the trapped workers on tomorrow," Ismail was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua newsagency.

The workers have been trapped in an area more than 400 km from Ruoqiang's county seat, where the altitude is between 3,500 and 5,000 meters, since July 29.

The workers were among 455 people -- 450 from the northeastern Jilin Province and five from Xinjiang -- stranded by flood waters from the Altun Mountains while digging for mineral deposits at four locations, the official said.

The trapped workers were in contact with rescuers through mobile phones. They had food and other supplies for at least three more days, Ismail said.

But forecast of a new heatwave from tomorrow by the regional weather bureau might hamper rescue work as the heat would speed up thawing of perennial snow on mountains in the south of Xinjiang, including the Altun, Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, officials said the rain-triggered floods have left 1,072 people dead and 619 others missing so far.

The floods affected 140 million people in 28 provinces and regions and caused direct economic losses estimated at almost 210 billion yuan (USD 31 billion), Deputy Director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters Shu Qingpeng said.

More than 1.1 million homes have been destroyed and 9.72 million hectares of farmland damaged, he said.

China's large rivers, including the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Songhua rivers, have overflown the danger levels after heavy rains, which had inundated more than 160 cities across the country, the official said, adding eight small reservoirs have collapsed and another 1,000 reservoirs were at risk.

Water also overflowed from some small and medium-sized rivers, Shu added.


First Published: Wednesday, August 04, 2010, 20:11

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