Floods Ravage Southeast China

The latest rains falling over the last several days, have, according to media reports, caused more than 100 deaths, and dozens of people have also been reported missing, in one of the worst-hit areas
( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2004 07:57 PM EDT

Thousands of army and navy personnel and other rescue workers were in southwestern China as massive floods and landslides triggered by torrential summer rains have left at least 143 people dead and dozens more are missing. Meanwhile, heavy rains continue to lash parts of China during the current summer rainy season, causing flooding and triggering landslides and mud and rock flows, and trapping thousands of people.

In one of the worst-hit areas in Sichuan province in southwestern China, scores of emergency workers were shown unloading cases of bottled water in a warehouse, while uniformed soldiers guided boats filled with huddled residents to safety.

State-run China Central Television showed footage of people wading through a murky, chest-high deluge, some with children on their shoulders or being towed in plastic washtubs. Others struggled through rushing water, grabbing onto ropes so that they wouldn't be swept away.

Streets that weren't under water were covered in rubbish and debris; buildings were in shambles.

According to the Xinhua news agency, more than 3,000 people left homeless by the flooding were sheltering in schools and government buildings, and rescuers were handing out quilts, medicine, bottled water and instant noodles.

"The great needs are to ensure there is sufficient shelter and to get food in and to get in necessary medicine," said John Sparrow, regional information director for the Red Cross.

Medical teams were sent to Kaixian County to help prevent disease outbreaks after 100,000 people there were left without safe drinking water, it said.

Flooding losses were initially estimated at $600 million Cdn, Xinhua said, with the greatest damage caused by landslides and flash floods sweeping through mountain valleys.

Members and partners of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, a global alliance of churches and related agencies, have been responding since early August to the needs of people who have been severely affected by the floods caused by heavy rainfall, which began in mid-June. The Amity Foundation, under an ACT Appeal issued on August 9, is assisting the most vulnerable in Longchuan, Yingjiang, Fugong, Ludhui, and Gongshan Counties in Yunnan Province and Yuanling County in Hunan Province.

Amity Foundation says the greatest needs following the flooding have been food, medicine, protection from mosquitoes and bedding. Reporting on the situation, Amity explains that after people's houses had collapsed in the floods, they were forced to sleep in tents and were pestered by mosquitoes while living outside. In addition, the cold weather at night and lack of blankets posed problems for people.

Amity, along with its partners, Overseas Friendship Association, Yunnan Overseas Friendship Association and Christian Council of Yunnan Province, plans to provide food rice, medicines, blankets, mosquito nets, repair and rebuilding of levees and reconstruction and repair of houses and schools for approximately 28,500 people among 6,000 families. The ACT Coordinating Office so far has received US$50,584 or 7.67 percent of the total target for the appeal.