May 27, 2008 / 1:10 PM / 9 years ago

Flash floods kill 20 in southern China

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BEIJING, May 27 (Reuters) - Floods triggered by rain and hail storms in southern China have killed at least 20 people and left 16 missing, Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday, citing local authorities.

Flash floods in Wangmo county in southwest Guizhou province had killed 18 people and left 12 missing, Xinhua said, citing the province's Emergency Response Office.

The floods had also destroyed bridges, dozens of houses and caused power outages in eight townships, affecting 26,000 residents, the agency said. Nine had died in the townships of Xintun, Dayi and Fuxing.

Torrential rains had also killed two people and left four missing in Yuanling county of neighbouring Hunan province, Xinhua said, citing a government spokesman.

The rain had triggered floods and landslides, damaged houses, roads, crops, power supplies and telecom networks, affecting 90,000 people, Xinhua said.

Some 224 mm (8.8 inches) of rainfall had been recorded in the region on Tuesday morning alone, the agency said, citing a local meteorological office.

"We have dispatched rescuers to search (for) the missing people and workers to repair the damaged facilities," Xinhua quoted an unnamed government spokesman as saying.

The floods occurred as authorities frantically try to drain hundreds of endangered reservoirs and dozens of lakes formed by landslides triggered by the severe earthquake which hit southwest Sichuan province on May 12.

Officials have warned that heavy summer rains could place further pressure on dams, which if breached, would endanger tens of thousands of people in downstream villages.

China on Tuesday put the death toll from the earthquake at 67,183, with the figure certain to rise with more than 20,000 still missing. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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