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China Evacuates Tens of Thousands as Storms Spread North

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ZHENGZHOU, China Reuters Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from floodhit regions of central China on Thursday as officials raised the death toll from heavy rain that has deluged Henan province for almost a week to 33 people.

More cities were inundated and crops destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan 189 million.

The provincial weather bureau raised the storm alert on Thursday for four cities in the north of Henan Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi and Jiaozuo to red, the highest tier of a fourstep colourcoded weather warning system.

The fatalities included 12 people who were killed when the subway in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, about 650 km 400 miles southwest of Beijing, was flooded earlier this week.

In Zhengzhou, where the bad weather reached a peak on Tuesday, the skies had cleared although floodwaters were still at waist height, or higher, with entire streets underwater in many areas.

Rescue teams used rubber rafts to ferry residents to safety, while others waded through the water carrying belongings above their heads or waited on halfsubmerged cars to be picked up.

Another group of people was carried through the floodwaters on a digger truck.

One group of 15 volunteers from a construction firm based in Sichuan province were using a boat to transport residents who had been trapped in a highrise condominium.

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