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17 July 2011

Storms claim more than 460 in China

Beijing - More than 460 people have died or gone missing in China since June, after extreme summer weather triggered huge floods and deadly landslides, government authorities said.

Torrential downpours have pummelled large swathes of China since the beginning of last month, wreaking havoc in some areas where mudslides and flash floods have torn through towns, killing and trapping countless people.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said Saturday that since June 1, rain-triggered natural disasters had left 355 people dead and 112 missing, and had forced the emergency evacuation of more than 2.3 million residents.

China is hit by big downpours every summer. Last year saw the nation's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4 300 people dead or missing.

One, single mudslide in the northwestern province of Gansu last August left 1 500 people dead.

In the latest rain-triggered accidents, 13 people died when a bus and truck were damaged by a mudslide in Gansu, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

The report also said more than 800 people in over 300 vehicles had been stranded on a highway in southwest China's Yunnan province after the road was blocked by mud and rocks.

Earlier this month, a landslide tore through a town in the northern province of Shaanxi, engulfing houses and killing 18 people.

Weather authorities warned on Sunday that large swathes of the country would continue to be hit by heavy rain.

- SAPA/News24