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.
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.
Crews were working to restore power, water and communications in affected areas in the southern part of the province, and it was not known how many of the missing were in danger or simply out of contact.
Hoping to prevent further disasters, demolitions experts set off charges to clear debris blocking the Bailong River upstream from the ravaged town of Zhouqu, which remained largely submerged following Sunday’s disaster.
The blockage had formed a 2-mile-long artificial lake on the river that overflowed in the pre-dawn hours, sending deadly torrents crashing down onto the town. Houses were ripped from their foundations, apartment buildings shattered, and streets covered with a layer of mud and water more than a yard deep.
Authorities were rushing in water, tents, blankets and other emergency supplies and Premier Wen Jiabao flew to the area on Sunday to oversee relief efforts.
Wen visited hard-hit areas including the Sanyan valley, where a village of 300 households was completely buried in mudslides, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said more than 680 villagers have been rescued, but gave no word on numbers believed to still be trapped.