16 dead, 36 missing in flash flood in western China

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BEIJING — At least 16 people have died and 36 others are missing after a sudden rainstorm in western China triggered a landslide that diverted a river and caused flash flooding in populated areas, Chinese state media said Thursday.

Rescuers have found two more people reported missing earlier and were searching for the others, state broadcaster CCTV said in an online report. The Wednesday night disaster affected more than 6,000 people in six villages in Qinghai province, CCTV said.

China is facing both heavy rains and flooding in some parts of the country this summer and extreme heat and drought in other regions. State media has described the heat and drought as the worst since record-keeping started 60 years ago.

Emergency authorities described the flash flooding in Qinghai’s Datong county as a “mountain torrent.” Such torrents generally result from heavy squalls in mountainous areas. Water running down the mountain can turn gullies or streams into raging rivers, catching people by surprise.

Seven people died last weekend from a mountain torrent in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

Elsewhere in Sichuan and other provinces, crops are wilting and factories have been shut down as a drought cut hydropower supplies and high temperatures raised electricity demand.

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