China evacuates 50,000 hit by floods

Heavy rains sparked serious flooding along the China-North Korea border Saturday, with more than 50,000 Chinese evacuated and Pyongyang's state media warning of "devastating" consequences in the North.

Downpours swelled the Yalu river which forms the border between the neighbouring countries to untenable levels, sending floodwaters into homes on both sides of the frontier, state media in both nations said.
 
In the northeast Chinese city of Dandong, three people were missing and more than 50,000 others evacuated, officials told AFP. About 230 homes collapsed and some transport, power and communication links have been cut off.
 
While an official at Dandong's flood control headquarters insisted that the situation was "not serious" in the city of 2.4 million, the Korean Central News Agency said the city of Sinuiju across the border had been "severely affected".
 
Floodwaters had inundated all houses, public buildings and farmland in three sectors of Sinuiju -- home to a North Korean military airbase -- and nearby rural communities, KCNA reported, without saying how many people were affected.
 
Provincial and local officials joined military personnel in rescue efforts, the North's media said.
 
In China, some roads were submerged along the Yalu and houses in Dandong were flooded with water that was knee-deep after heavy rain which began early Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the city government.
 
Workers were building a sand-bag flood barrier along the part of the river where the barriers had been breached, the agency reported.
 
Officials cited by Xinhua said only riverside areas, not downtown Dandong, had been affected.
Storms were expected to batter the area throughout Saturday.
 
Heavy summer rain across large parts of China has triggered the country's worst floods in a decade.
Nearly 3,900 people have been killed or left missing this year in China in flood-related incidents, including about 1,750 victims of devastating mudslides in a remote northwestern town on August 7-8, official figures show.
 
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other top Communist party leaders have made personal donations to help survivors of the disaster in Zhouqu, where at least 1,407 people were killed and more than 350 others are missing, Xinhua said.
 
Earlier this month, authorities suspended shipping and tourist traffic on the Yalu amid fears of flooding, as the waterway had seen more rain in a two-week period than at any comparable time in recorded history.
 
Thousands were evacuated at the time.
 
Across the border in North Korea, widespread flooding this summer has caused an unspecified number of fatalities, according to state media reports from Pyongyang.
 
In 2007, the impoverished nation reported at least 600 people dead or missing from devastating floods.
 
Elsewhere in China, rescuers were still searching for about 80 people who went missing in rain-triggered mudslides in a remote part of the southwestern province of Yunnan. Twelve people have been confirmed dead, Xinhua said.
 
"The rescuers are at risk of sinking into the mud any time," the agency quoted military officer Yang Pingang as saying in Puladi township, where more rain was also expected.
 
"The task is dangerous," said rescuer Cao Dashuai.
 
Hundreds of homeless villagers have been moved to two temporary shelters in the township, Xinhua said.
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