Floods continue to strike China

More than 60 people are missing in fresh mudslides triggered by heavy rains in southwest China.

More than 60 people were missing in fresh mudslides triggered by heavy rains in southwest China today, an official said, as the country continues to battle its worst flooding in a decade. Roads, power lines and telecoms have been cut to Puladi township in Yunnan province, where a torrent of mud slammed into homes in the early hours of today as people were sleeping, a provincial government official said.

Rescuers have been sent to the affected area, in a remote and mountainous part of Yunnan on the border with Myanmar, to search for the 67 missing people, the official, who asked not to be named, said. The mudslides destroyed a bridge and more than 200 metres of road, cutting off traffic and communications, the nation's civil affairs ministry said on its website. A large amount of debris was washed into the Nu River, where the water level rose by up to six metres, the official Xinhua news agency quoted the provincial emergency response office as saying.

The latest mudslides come 10 days after at least 1,270 people were killed in devastating mudslides in the northwestern province of Gansu, which virtually split the remote town of Zhouqu in two. More than 470 others remain missing in Zhouqu, where rescuers are still battling to get much-needed aid supplies to residents and prevent an outbreak of water-borne disease. An official at the rescue headquarters in Gannan prefecture, where Zhouqu is located, said some main roads in the town that had previously been drenched in water and mud had now been cleaned up, easing the passage of supplies.

Local weather authorities have warned that Zhouqu will experience heavy rain until at least Saturday, further complicating relief efforts and putting residents at risk. Elsewhere in Gansu, recent floods and landslides have killed 36 people and left 23 missing in the city of Longnan, close to Zhouqu, Xinhua said. More than 122,000 residents in Longnan have been evacuated after heavy rain last week.

Another 15 people have been killed in landslides in an area of the southwestern province of Sichuan that is only just recovering from a massive earthquake in 2008 which left nearly 87,000 dead or missing. The mudslides in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan are the latest in a string of weather-related disasters across China in a summer of heavy rains that have triggered the country's worst flooding in a decade.

More than 2,100 people have so far been left dead or missing and 12 million evacuated nationwide, not including the toll from the Zhouqu incident, according to government figures. * AFP