Hundreds stranded in Sichuan storms

The Tuo river floods Jintang county, southwest China's Sichuan province on July 11, 2013.

CHINA - Heavy rain triggered floods in Shimian county, Sichuan province, early on Saturday, stranding about 400 villagers.

In the wee hours of Saturday, the storm lashed six townships in Shimian, flooding six rivers.

"Roads as well as power and communication were cut off in the townships. More than 1,100 people including two foreign tourists were evacuated," said deputy county magistrate Hu Jijun.

As floods inundated roads to Shimian's Caoke township, some 400 residents in the township's Keping village lost contact with the outside world in the morning.

"In the afternoon, rescuers braved floods to reach the village and found 335 of the 400 stranded villagers were safe. As roads were ruined, the stranded cannot be evacuated. And rescuers are looking for the rest of the villagers," Hu said.

According to the Sichuan provincial department of civil affairs, the stormy weather, which hit Sichuan beginning last Sunday, has affected nearly 2.5 million people. Direct economic losses amounted to 12 billion yuan (nearly $2 billion).

Rescuers were still looking for those missing in a landslide, which took place on Wednesday morning due to the ongoing downpours, that led to 43 deaths in a village in Dujiangyan city as of 7 pm on Saturday. Another 118 people are either missing or have lost contact with their families. Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday urged that no efforts be spared in searching for the missing.

"The operations to look for the missing have been very difficult as mud and rocks brought down by heavy rainfall cover an area of 2 sq km," said Ma Kun, fire chief under the Chengdu public security bureau.

All tourists stranded by the landslide had gone home from the makeshift shelter at Dujiangyan's Zhongxin High School, 8 km from the site of the landslide, except for relatives of the missing on Saturday. Many of them wept as hope that the missing had survived dimmed as the day went on.

A middle-aged man from Chengdu, Sichuan's provincial capital, who wanted to be identified as Wu, said his parents and son were yet to be found in the landslide area, and his wife was so desperate that she fainted several times.

The water supply was cut off in many parts of Chengdu on Saturday as the city's drinking water source was polluted in the rainstorm.

Vegetable prices soared as the bad weather disrupted supplies.

"One kilogram of cowpea and cucumber is sold for 20 yuan and 8 yuan, a rise of 12 yuan and 4 yuan respectively," said a vegetable vendor in the Changshun Street Farm Produce Market downtown.

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