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At least nine people were killed, another one is missing and many more injured when torrential rain struck the Pearl River Delta in South China's Guangdong Province over the weekend.

The cities of Shenzhen and Dongguan were the hardest hit by the downpours that have caused landslides and traffic chaos, according to sources with the Guangdong Provincial Anti-Flooding Headquarters yesterday.

In Shenzhen, eight people were killed when at least 30 landslides and housing collapses occurred in and around the city.

Shenzhen Reservoir started to discharge flood water at noon on Saturday as the water there exceeded safety levels.

Many streets in the busy downtown areas were flooded, bringing traffic to a standstill as cars and buses were stranded in water.

The city raised the "black signal" for storms and flooding, the highest flood warning signal, on Saturday afternoon.

More than 60 trains operating between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, were delayed on Saturday and early yesterday when the railway tracks in the Buji section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Railway were damaged by mountain torrents, affecting more than 22,000 passengers.

The railway operation returned to normal yesterday afternoon.

In Dongguan, at least 10 towns were flooded, resulting in wide spread damage, leaving one person dead.

Many local factories and residential districts were also flooded there, as rainfall reached 366 millimetres on Saturday, the highest in the city for 24 years.

The Guangdong Provincial Observatory has warned that the torrential rain will not end until the latter half of the week.

The heavy rain has spurred a price hike of around 25 per cent in both aquatic products and vegetables in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhuhai and other major cities in the Pearl River Delta.

In Shaanxi Province, Northwest China, six people were killed and much economic loss was sustained as the weather took its toll.

"Since August 14, 98 out of Shaanxi's 108 cities and counties have been hit by continuous heavy rain and more than 200,000 people have fallen victim to floods, landslides and mud-rock flows caused by the rain," said Cheng Zhigong, an official with the Shaanxi Provincial Anti-flood Office.

According to Cheng, floods caused by the continuous heavy rain have seriously affected 34 townships in southern Shaanxi. More than 600 houses and some 3,400 hectares of farmland have been destroyed and nearly 100 roads severed, with a total estimated economic loss of 100 million yuan (US$12.3 million).

"Three people were killed and three were reported missing in Zhenping and Pingli counties in southern Shaanxi," the official said.

Three people also died in central Shaanxi, as roads were cut off, bringing the death toll in the province to six , Cheng told China Daily.

Zhu Xinqian, a 47-year-old farmer living in Banchang village in Lantian, a mountainous county in central Shaanxi, lost his wife and son as a landslide suddenly hit in the early hours of Friday morning.

"I went to my farmland on the mountain that night to drive away wild boars that might destroy my crops. The landslide hit my house just at the same time as I arrived back home," the farmer said from hospital.

"Zhu was just in front of his house when the landslide came down, he injured his leg. I don't know how he managed to crawl the more than 100 metres to my house for help," said Wang Cunmin, a neighbour who helped Zhu in his vain attempt to rescue his wife and son.

Local civil administration departments have been making efforts to rescue those left stranded by the conditions and a number of special rescue teams with specialist equipment have been sent to the disaster-hit regions, said Wang Shousen, vice-governor of Shaanxi in charge of the anti-disaster work.

In Xi'an, the provincial capital, officials went to every district to investigate whether there were any houses in a poor state of repair that might be destroyed by the heavy rain. Workers have also tried to mend roads in order to resume the smooth movement of traffic, said Zhu Zhisheng, vice-mayor of Xi'an.

Weather forecasters predict that tomorrow will bring an end to rains for Shaanxi.


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