Rains Ease Chinese Drought, Bring Flooding Fears

Posted June 6th, 2011 at 9:55 am (UTC-5)
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Several days of torrential rains in drought-stricken southern and eastern China has triggered flood warnings and the evacuations of tens of thousands of people.

State television on Monday showed water roaring through towns in southwestern Guizhou province and hundreds of damaged or destroyed houses. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said some 200,000 people in the area were affected.

The official Xinhua news agency said downpours started Friday night in Jiangxi and Hunan provinces and continued Saturday in Anhui province. It said water levels are rising in Poyang, the nation's largest lake, where levels had fallen to the lowest point in recorded history.

The rainfall, affecting the hard-hit middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, comes just in time to reduce economic losses for farmers who are planting rice and replanting cotton.

In the eastern province of Zhejiang, authorities say heavy rains washed carbolic acid — an industrial chemical used to create plastic and other materials — into the Xin'an river. The river supplies drinking water to several urban areas, but officials later said the spill had been diluted in the upper reaches of the river and posed no threat to locals.