Flooding destroys 3600 houses

BEIJING - Downpours brought by a fading tropical storm have caused widespread flooding in south China, toppling more than 3600 houses, while in the northeast hundreds were evacuated to avoid landslides, state media said yesterday.

And a clear, sunny day in the capital Beijing ended in a brief, violent storm taking everyone by surprise, with high winds uprooting several trees, knocking flowerpots off balconies, cutting power in some places and causing flash floods.

Tropical storm Pabuk, which hit Hong Kong at the weekend, brought rain to southeastern coastal provinces, offering temporary relief to the lingering drought there. But it also caused floods across the southern province of Guangdong, toppling the houses and affecting about 1.2 million people, Xinhua news agency said.

Downpours and rainstorms were recorded in Wenzhou and Taizhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang that have suffered more than 20 days of sweltering heat.

Heavy rains also brought relief to 65,500 people and 30,300ha of scorched farmland in Fujian in the southeast.

A drizzly Hong Kong itself was getting back to normal yesterday after a severe-storm warning forced markets and schools to close early on Friday.

Xinhua said that in the northeast province of Liaoning, more than 1100 people were evacuated to avoid possible landslides after heavy rains hit the city of Dandong.

Mines in two counties under the jurisdiction of Dandong city were ordered to suspend operation, with rain expected all week.

More than 1000 workers have started repairing a railway on China's first cross-strait railway linking Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, to Haikou on the island province of Hainan.

The railway was destroyed by torrential currents that inundated the rail-bed and distorted rails.

Three more tropical storms are expected to form in coming days, threatening China and Taiwan.

Natural disasters in China have killed nearly 1000 people over the northern summer.

Pabuk strikes

* Tropical storm Pabuk, which hit Hong Kong at the weekend, brought rain to southeastern coastal provinces, offering temporary relief to the lingering drought there, but flooding in other areas.

* Flooding in south China destroyed more than 3600 houses.

* Hundreds of people in the northeast had to be evacuated because of the threat of landslides.

* Up to 1.2 million people have been affected by the storms.

* More tropical storms are expected to form in the next few days.

- Reuters

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