`Twenty missing` in China landslide as rains continue

Persistent heavy rainfall has caused water levels in lakes and rivers.

Last Updated: Jul 19, 2010, 12:57 PM IST

Beijing: At least 20 people were missing on Monday after a rain-triggered landslide buried parts of a north China village, while rising waters threatened to overrun numerous lakes and rivers including the Yangtze.

The landslide engulfed nine homes in a village in the city of Ankang in Shaanxi province late Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported, saying that 20 people were missing and believed buried in the debris.

The local government was scrambling to organise search and rescue operations, while the exact toll was still being tabulated, the report said.

The agency said that since last Thursday at least 123 people were killed, missing or buried due to flooding, landslides and other rain-related disasters in Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces alone, with more than 700,000 evacuated.

That toll appeared to include the Ankang landslide.

It adds to several hundred already reported killed or missing in floods nationwide this year, especially in June and July, when China began experiencing some of its worst flooding in more than a decade.

Persistent heavy rainfall also has caused water levels in lakes and rivers -- including the Yangtze, the nation`s longest river -- to exceed danger levels, the Civil Affairs Ministry said on Sunday.

State media reports said water levels in the upper reaches of the Yangtze had already surpassed those of 1998, when more than 4,150 people were killed and 18 million evacuated in China`s worst flooding in recent memory.

The massive water flow on the Yangtze was also posing the biggest challenge to the Three Gorges Dam -- the world`s largest hydro-electric project -- since it was completed in 2006, the China Daily newspaper said.

More heavy rain was forecast along the Yangtze`s upper reaches likely raising the flood pressures on major lakes downstream like the Dongting and Poyang -- where water levels were already near warning marks, the civil affairs ministry warned.

The government had previously said that of July 13, 567 people were killed and 251 missing in floods nationwide this year, with economic losses nearing CNY 116 billion (USD 17 billion).

Bureau Report