Flooding, landslides leave trail of misery across Asia

Christopher Bodeen / The Associated Press /

BEIJING — Rescuers searched today for an estimated 1,300 people left missing after rubble-strewn floodwaters tore through a remote corner of northwestern China, just one of a series of flood disasters across Asia that have plunged millions into misery.

In neighboring Pakistan, an estimated 4 million people faced food shortages amid their country’s worst-ever flooding, while rescuers in Indian-controlled Kashmir raced to find 500 people still missing in flash floods that have killed 132.

North Korea’s state media said high waters destroyed thousands of homes and damaged crops.

Sunday’s disaster in China’s Gansu province killed at least 127 people and covered entire villages in water, mud and rocks.

Worst hit was the county seat of Zhouqu in the province’s Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where houses buckled and streets were filled with more than a yard of mud and water.

The landslides struck after heavy rains lashed China late Saturday, causing the Bailong River to burst its banks, the Xinhua News Agency quoted the head of Zhouqu county, Diemujiangteng, as saying.

Terrified residents fled to high ground or upper stories of apartment buildings after the river overflowed during the night, smashing buildings and overturning cars.

Hoping to prevent further disasters, demolitions experts set off charges to clear debris blocking the river upstream from the ravaged town, which remained largely submerged following Sunday’s disaster.

In Pakistan, more than 1,500 people have been killed and millions more left begging for help following the worst floods in the country’s history.

Prices of fruit and vegetable skyrocketed Sunday, with more than 1 million acres of crops destroyed and at least 4 million people in need of food assistance in the coming months.

The latest deaths included at least 53 people killed on Saturday when landslides buried two villages in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan, senior government official Ali Mohamamd Sikandar said.

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