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Floods Devastate Parts of China - 2002-06-12

A deadly combination of rapidly melting mountain snow and unusually heavy rain has caused some of China's worst floods in years. The foul weather took at least 179 lives in the past few days.

Northwestern Shaanxi province was hit hardest as heavy rain pushed rivers over their banks and caused mud slides between Saturday and Monday. State media reported 150 bodies were recovered in Shaanxi province alone.

Flood damage is also reported in Sichuan and Xinjiang. Xinjiang's flood control office says such heavy rain has not been seen in that normally arid area in decades.

Weather officials say in one case, 300 millimeters of rain were recorded in just one day. Hundreds of people are missing and thousands have lost their homes or crops in the affected areas.

Chinese officials say dozens of roads, bridges, railroad tracks, and hydropower stations were destroyed, complicating rescue and rebuilding efforts.

Government officials say on state television that they are urging workers to mobilize all available resources to fight the floods. The officials say they are deeply concerned about the plight of people in the flood area.

State media say China's Army has been called in to help with rescue efforts and to help prevent future flood disasters.

Flooding has been a frequent problem for China. The country has been trying to control flooding recently by banning logging and urging farmers to replant trees and grasses to slow the run off of summer rains. China has also started building the huge and controversial Three Gorges Dam, which is intended to help control floods.

The last major floods to hit China struck in 1998, when about four thousand people perished.