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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
China lightning kills record 141
A rescue worker carries a resident through flood waters in Chongqing. File photo
Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes
Lightning killed almost 150 people last month across China, the highest number since records began in 2000, a state body has said.

According to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), 141 people died in lightning strikes in July.

China's top meteorological official blamed global warming for the extreme seasonal weather.

More than 700 people have died in floods in central China, while millions of others have been hit by drought.

"Extreme weather has incurred frequent natural disasters such as rainstorms, floods and droughts across the country this year," CMA chief Zheng Guoguang said on Wednesday.

Heatstroke warning

In the latest incidents, about 50 people are feared dead in Shaanxi province in the north-west, following floods triggered by heavy rain, Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty-three people have been confirmed dead and another 26 are missing, the agency said, citing local government officials.

Almost 40,000 people have been evacuated and power supplies have been cut in some areas.

Elsewhere in China, meteorologists issued their first heatstroke warning of the year.

Forecasters said temperatures in southern China and the western Xinjiang region could hit 40 degrees Celsius.

They urged residents to try to stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day.

The warning came as the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters warned that severe drought had left some 7.53 million people short of drinking water.

Hardest hit were the northern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin, and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, while the southern provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were also affected.

Millions of hectares of arable land have been affected, the office said.

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22 Mar 07 |  Country profiles


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