35 killed, 13 missing after heavy rains hit China

An official crossing a water-logged field during the Asia Rugby Championship game between Hong Kong and Japan in Hong Kong last Saturday. The match was cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.
An official crossing a water-logged field during the Asia Rugby Championship game between Hong Kong and Japan in Hong Kong last Saturday. The match was cancelled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHANGHAI - Torrential rain - the worst for 40 years in some parts of China - has hit at least six provinces and delayed almost 1,000 flights at the Hong Kong airport over the weekend.

At least 35 people have been killed and another 13 have gone missing since the deluge began on May 4, triggering mudslides and flooding in southern and central China.

The south-west province of Guizhou is among the worst affected, with 11 people dead and eight missing as of last Friday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.

Fujian province lost five people to mudslides and four to drowning because of the downpour, with another two missing, the ministry said.

And in Jiangxi province, five died from buildings collapsing, two in mudslides and one from a lightning strike, it said.

But relief could be on the way for some areas as China's National Meteorological Centre said the downpour would start to weaken as early as yesterday.

The centre removed the blue alert for rainstorms yesterday morning, even though heavy rain will continue in some parts of China.

China has a four-tier colour- coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

In July last year, a single mudslide triggered by days of heavy rain killed at least 14 people in two villages in the south-western province of Yunnan.

In Hong Kong, the Airport Authority has warned of more flight delays as it tries to clear a backlog of planes after last Saturday's red rainstorm alert that paralysed the airport, the South China Morning Post reported.

The red warning has since been cancelled.

Last Saturday night, departing flights at Chek Lap Kok were held in parking stands and landed flights waited in the taxiway for up to two hours, while arriving flights circled overhead and inbound aircraft were diverted, according to the Post.

From last Saturday to 2pm yesterday, 50 flights were cancelled and 959 flights were delayed in Hong Kong.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA