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Sunday, 18 August, 2002, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Chinese flood death toll rises
Search for missing in Yunnan province
Landslides have claimed 100 lives in Yunnan

Nearly 250 people are now thought to have been killed in a week of torrential rain and flooding across a wide swathe of central and southern China.

Worst hit has been Hunan province in central China, where more than 100 are now confirmed dead, and Yunnan province in the far south-west, where a series of deadly landslides have killed close to 100 more.

Chinese police search for bodies after landslide in Yunnan

This is rapidly turning into one of China's worst flood seasons in recent years.

In the last three months, close to 1,000 people have been killed and the death toll is still climbing.

In Yunnan province, another fatal rock and mud slide struck early on Saturday morning, the third to hit the province in less than a week.

On the other side of the country in east China's Zhejiang province, days of torrential rain have triggered flash floods that have killed at least 20 people.

In one place, a wall of rock and mud 10 metres high swept down a mountain valley, burying several villages.

Close to danger level

And in central China, the mighty Yangtze River is now on the rise.

On Saturday, authorities declared the river closed to all traffic at the site of the Three Gorges dam.

The volume of water flowing through the dam site is now so high that it is too dangerous for ships to pass.

So far the dykes on the Yangtze have held, but at several points the water is close to danger level.

If the river were to burst its banks, the results could be devastating.

The last time that happened, in 1998, more than 4,000 people were killed.

See also:

16 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
25 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
06 Aug 02 | Country profiles
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