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Mudslides kill thousands as China battles torrential rain

Torrential rain has also struck China, killing thousands through huge mudslides and bridge collapses and leaving thousands without water and power.

Dramatic scenes have unfolded in northwest China’s Zhouqu County after water built up behind a large mudslide, creating an unstable barrier lake almost 2M.m³ in capacity that threatened to collapse and bring further devastation.

The 8 August mudslide has already killed 1,254 people, with 490 still missing.

Engineers worked to drain the lake before further rains came, using explosives and excavators to demolish the blockage and discharge potential flood waters.

Vice minister of water resources Jiao Yong said relief workers have now dug a 1km drainage channel to prevent water building up behind the barrier again.

New wave of rain

A new wave of rain began to fall this week.

Elsewhere, 51 people were killed when the bridge over the Yi River in Henan province collapsed. The bridge became overloaded when a large crowd of pedestrians gathered on the bridge to watch the overflowing river.

Thousands of homes have been affected by blackouts stemming from damage to power infrastructure, and hundreds of homes and schools have been damaged by flood waters or buried by mudslides.

More than 300,000 residents of the north-eastern province of Jilin were trapped in their homes without tap water after four major water pipelines in the industrial city of Tonghua were damaged by torrential rains.

Record high water levels have also put the capacity of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam to the test. Officials said the the world’s largest hydroelectric dam could withstand a one in 1,000 year flood event.

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