China calls flood emergency as thousands try to stem lake

Thursday, August 22, 2002

CHANGSHA, China -- Officials were given emergency powers Wednesday to combat floodwaters in central China's Hunan province, where tens of thousands of workers were trying to hold back the rising waters of a lake that threaten to swamp a city and farming villages.

In eastern Nepal on Wednesday, a landslide triggered by heavy monsoon rains swept through a mountain village, leaving at least 65 people feared dead, an official said. Helicopter flights to bring in relief material and rescuers from Nepal's capital Katmandu had to be postponed until Thursday because of bad weather.

The floods have swept away hundreds of thousands of homes from China to Bangladesh to India, displacing millions and leaving about 2,000 dead.

Every year, the monsoons disrupt the lives of millions of people across South Asia.

In China, officials were given special powers to commandeer labor, land and materials under the emergency order declared for Hunan, a densely populated farming area where more than 100 people have died in flooding and landslides.

Some 400 soldiers have joined 850,000 civilians battling to hold off flooding in rivers and Dongting Lake, where water has risen to danger levels along hundreds of miles of dikes, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Rains stopped Tuesday night and several days of dry weather were predicted.

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