147 killed as heavy rains wreak havoc in China

     At least 147 people have been killed and over 1.09 million residents forced to flee their homes after torrential rains wreaked havoc in parts of southern China. Among the worst hit areas include Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. According to the Chinese Civil Affairs Ministry, the storms have affected 15.33 million people and left 93 residents missing in nine provincial-level regions since June 13. The ministry also said that over 178,000 houses have been destroyed and direct economic losses have topped 19.7 billion yuan. The rains have also disrupted the inter-provincial train services to and from Yingtan, with 40,000 passengers being stranded in Shanghai and more than 20,000 people seeking ticket refunds after 30 trains were canceled. "The rain was too heavy. The water level was about 10 cm on Saturday evening, but it rose to the second floor overnight," The China Daily quoted Shao Xu, a local resident trapped in a residential building in Yujiang county of Yingtan, as saying. "It's like a vast ocean. We're short of food and drinking water," he added. The National Meteorological Center had forecasted more thunderstorms in the areas from late Sunday to Monday. Premier Wen Jiabao visited the flood-affected over the weekend and called for better forecasts, alarm systems and emergency response plans to tackle the situation.

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