Wild Panda, Student Are Among Chinese Flood Victims

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 5:35 am (UTC-5)
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Officials say a 10-year-old wild giant panda is among the victims of flooding that has claimed at least seven lives this month in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted local forestry officials Thursday as saying the dead panda was found in a reservoir with a large amount of water in its lungs. They believe it was swept into the rain-swollen Minjiang River and carried from there into the reservoir.

The mountainous province has been battered by heavy rains for more than a week with continuous downfalls since Monday, totaling more than 300 millimeters in some areas. Xinhua said seven people are dead or missing in the province since June 30, including a student who was swept away while walking to school in Guangyuan City on Tuesday.

Only about 1,500 to 2,000 wild pandas exist in the wild, concentrated mainly in Sichuan province where their habitat is protected.

China is regularly battered by summer rainfalls which cause widespread flooding and landslides. The government said last week that storms killed 279 people across China during June.