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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006, 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK
China deaths spark cover-up claim
A soldier evacuates a woman from floods in China's Hunan province
Bilis destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes
The number of people killed in a storm that hit southern China last week has risen to more than 500 - more than double the original estimate.

Tropical Storm Bilis hit on 14 July, causing massive flooding and forcing three million people from their homes.

The government of Hunan province has accused local officials of deliberately playing down the death toll.

Meanwhile, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake has hit Yunan province, in the south-west, killing at least 18 people.

Some of the victims were crushed in their homes and others were killed by falling rocks, officials said.

Map of southern China
The official number of those killed in Tropical Storm Bilis rose to 518 after journalists visited the town of Pingshi and found that the initial death toll had been too low.

Media reports suggest the difference was partly due to cover-ups.

The state government in Hunan threatened to punish officials who misrepresented the number of those killed.

Correspondents says Chinese local officials are often known to conceal bad news for fear of being punished.

Bilis destroyed more than 200,000 homes and large areas of farmland.

The storm was the latest severe weather to affect China. At least 349 people died last month after storms and torrential rain battered parts of the country.

Chinese storm kills more than 180
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