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CHINA RAISES BILIS DEATH TOLL SHARPLY TO 482
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 21 - 07 - 2006

FLOODS AND OTHER DISASTERS BROUGHT BY HEAVY RAINS IN THE WAKE OF TROPICAL STORM BILIS HAVE TAKEN THE DEATH TOLL TO 482 IN CHINA, AS UNUSUALLY STRONG RAINS BATTERED OTHER PARTS OF NORTH ASIA IN RECENT DAYS, REUTERS REPORTED.
THE TOLL'S SHARP INCREASE FROM THE PREVIOUSLY REPORTED 228 CAME AS AUTHORITIES IN THE CENTRAL PROVINCE OF HUNAN MORE THAN TRIPLED THEIR REPORTED NUMBER OF PEOPLE KILLED THERE TO 346, THE OFFICIAL XINHUA NEWS AGENCY SAID ON FRIDAY.
CHINESE STATE TELEVISION HAD SAID EARLIER THAT ONE OF ITS REPORTERS HAD DISCOVERED THAT ONE COUNTY IN HUNAN MIGHT HAVE THREE TIMES AS MANY DEAD AND MISSING AS IT HAD OFFICIALLY REPORTED AND THAT OFFICIALS HAD INTENTIONALLY GIVEN A LOW FIGURE.
OF HUNAN'S 346 DEAD, 197 WERE IN THAT COUNTY, ZIXING, WHICH ALSO HAS 69 OF THE 89 STILL REPORTED MISSING IN THE PROVINCE, XINHUA SAID.
FOLLOWING THE STATE TELEVISION REPORT, THE MINISTRY OF CIVIL AFFAIRS WARNED LOCAL AUTHORITIES NOT TO COVER UP THE DEATH TOLL FROM THE DISASTER.
FLOODS, LANDSLIDES AND HOUSE COLLAPSES ALSO KILLED 63 PEOPLE IN NEIGHBOURING GUANGDONG PROVINCE, 30 IN THE SOUTHWESTERN REGION OF GUANGXI AND 43 IN THE SOUTHEASTERN PROVINCE OF FUJIAN, XINHUA SAID.
RESIDENTS IN THE AFFECTED AREAS FACED SHORTAGES OF CLEAN WATER, DAMAGED HOMES AND RUINED ROADS. ADDING TO THE MISERY, MOST OF SOUTH CHINA FACES A HEAT WAVE, AGGRAVATING THE THREAT OF AN EPIDEMIC, STATE MEDIA SAID.
BILIS WAS SUPPOSED TO WEAKEN AFTER MAKING LANDFALL IN CHINA LAST FRIDAY. INSTEAD, IT CAUSED HAVOC ACROSS A WIDE AREA, DISPLACING NEARLY 3 MILLION PEOPLE, DESTROYING 262,000 HOUSES AND CUTTING MAJOR RAIL AND HIGHWAY LINKS OVER THE PAST WEEK, ACCORDING TO THE MINISTRY OF CIVIL AFFAIRS.
SOUTH CHINA IS PLAGUED BY RAINSTORMS EVERY SUMMER, BUT THIS YEAR'S FLOOD SEASON HAS BEEN PARTICULARLY DEADLY, ALREADY CLAIMING HUNDREDS OF LIVES BEFORE BILIS STRUCK.
UNUSUALLY STRONG MONSOON RAINS HAVE ALSO PUMMELLED JAPAN AND THE KOREAN PENINSULA IN RECENT DAYS, TRIGGERING FLOODS AND LANDSLIDES THAT HAVE KILLED ABOUT 145 PEOPLE OVER THE PAST 10 DAYS OR SO.
KOREA FLOODING
FLOODS AND LANDSLIDES HAVE KILLED AT LEAST 129 PEOPLE IN NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA OVER THE PAST WEEK, ACCORDING TO OFFICIALS AND A LEADING INTERNATIONAL RELIEF AGENCY.
HOWEVER, NORTH KOREA'S KCNA NEWS AGENCY SAID ON FRIDAY HUNDREDS HAVE DIED OR GONE MISSING AFTER STORMS SWEPT THROUGH THE COUNTRY OVER THE PAST WEEK.
TWO MAJOR STORMS OVER THE PAST 10 DAYS HAVE HIT THE IMPOVERISHED NORTH WITH SOME OF THE HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN YEARS. THE RAINS HAVE TRIGGERED HEAVY FLOODING AND COULD TIP THE COUNTRY INTO FAMINE, EXPERTS SAID THIS WEEK.
THE RED CROSS SAID FLOODS STRUCK TWO PROVINCES SURROUNDING THE CAPITAL PYONGYANG THAT ARE PART OF THE COUNTRY'S RICE BASKET.
"IN SOME REMOTE AREAS, WHOLE VILLAGES HAVE BEEN SWEPT AWAY AND ESSENTIAL PUBLIC SERVICES, SUCH AS HEALTHCARE CLINICS, HAVE BEEN DESTROYED," SAID JAAP TIMMER, HEAD OF THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT IN NORTH KOREA.
DAYS OF TORRENTIAL RAIN HAVE KILLED AT LEAST 29 PEOPLE AND LEFT ANOTHER 32 MISSING IN SOUTH KOREA, OFFICIALS SAID EARLIER THIS WEEK.
MORE RAIN WAS EXPECTED OVER THE PENINSULA THIS WEEKEND.
IN JAPAN, ABOUT 200 MILLIMETRES (7.8 INCHES) OF RAIN WAS EXPECTED UP TO 6 A.M. (2100 GMT) ON SATURDAY, A METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY OFFICIAL SAID.
HEAVY RAIN THERE OVER THE PAST SEVERAL DAYS HAS TRIGGERED FLOODS AND LANDSLIDES, KILLING AT LEAST 15 PEOPLE, JAPANESE MEDIA SAID ON FRIDAY.


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