China: Reservoir collapse leaves 10 dead

CHINA - An 180,000-cubic-meter reservoir in rural Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, collapsed at dawn on Friday, killing at least 10 people and injuring 27 others.

The 10 victims killed included six females and four males. Seven of them are older than 74, and one is a 12-year-old child, according to an official statement from the local government. The oldest victim is 87. It also said that at least 80 local families have suffered as a result of the disaster.

The collapse - believed by some to be a result of Typhoon Haikui, which brought torrential rain to the area - flooded coastal Shenjiakeng village with water and silt, submerging a large area and damaging at least a third of the homes there.

"Most of the houses are made from stones and clay, which was very easily washed away by floods," said Chen Fu, chief of the Zhoushan firefighting branch, speaking at the site during a phone interview with the local radio station, about six hours after the collapse.

Chen said most rescues of the took place within an hour of the collapse.

The local government has provided no information about the number of missing people, or the population of the village, or the definite cause of the collapse.

"To find the missing is our first priority, and we will spare no efforts to save the injured," said Zhu Jun, spokesman of Daishan county, which administers the village.

Sitting on the north of Zhoushan, the fishing and shipping hub of the highly industrialized Yangtze River Delta, Shenjiakeng village is largely populated by migrant workers from other cities who work at ship-manufacturing companies.

Officials said the fact that many migrant workers lived in the village has "added to the difficulties of locating and identifying the missing".

As Typhoon Haikui lashed Zhejiang province on Tuesday and Wednesday, the village was one of the most heavily hit places, receiving 270 mm of rainfall.

But Zhu, the spokesman, said it is too early to make a connection between the typhoon and the collapse.

Some netizens who claimed to be residents of the village wrote on Sina Weibo, one of the most popular micro-blogging websites in China, that the reservoir has been in disrepair for years.

They said no people or organisations have claimed the reservoir, a 28.5-meter-high rainwater-collecting clay structure, as their property.

As the reservoir has leaked several times, local residents have reported the situation to government departments, but got no response.

In another development, Typhoon Haikui has left six people dead and forced more than 2.17 million people to be moved in four provincial-level regions in East China, Xinhua News Agency cited the Ministry of Civil Affairs as saying on Friday.

In Anhui province, Haikui killed three people and affected nearly 2.17 million residents, as well as destroyed more than 2,400 houses, the ministry said in a report.

In Shanghai, the typhoon killed two people and affected 361,000 others, the ministry said, adding that more than 50 houses were destroyed.

The typhoon also killed one person and forced 126,000 others to be evacuated in Jiangsu province, as well as forced nearly 1.55 million people in Zhejiang to move, according to the ministry.

Haikui, the 11th typhoon of the year, is the third typhoon to hit China's eastern coast in a week after the storms Saola and Damrey hit the region over the weekend.

Though no casualties have been reported in Jiangxi province so far, the Nanchang Railway Bureau said that as the typhoon moved westward, 12 trains running on the Anhui-Jiangxi Railway have been stranded by floods. Work to repair the damage is under way.

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