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Rainfall Worst On Record*

Deluges, tornados wreak havoc in S China

June 11, 2001 Posted: 10:01 PM HKT (1401 GMT)

A helicopter hovers over rooftops before rescuing stranded people from Tin Ping Shan village in Hong Kong



HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Hong Kong and South China are already feeling the force of the monsoon season, with torrential deluges and even tornados wreaking havoc across the region.

For nearly a week, it has been raining almost continuously in South China, in what meterologists say is the worst downpour in decades.

Along Hong Kong's border with the mainland, more than 200 millimeters (eight inches) of rain was recorded on Sunday alone.

Guangdong deaths

Across the border in Guangdong province, at least 25 people are dead or missing and tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

Officials estimate losses at nearly 50 million US dollars.

The Chinese state media say the storms, which also caused blackouts and disrupted communication lines, were the worst since authorities began keeping records.

More rain is forecast in the coming days.

On Monday a tornado destroyed dozens of shops and houses, injuring seven people and blowing up thousands of bottles of beer from a shop in Guangzhou city, Guangdong province.

It was the first tornado in 20 years.

In a region with a tropical climate, heavy monsoon downpours are a regular feature of summer.

Landslides and flooding caused by summer rains kill hundreds of people every year in China. In 1998, some 4,100 were killed in the country's worst floods in four decades.

Hong Kong deluge

Even in a modern city like Hong Kong, they can still cause havoc. Fierce storms over recent days have left hundreds of people stranded in Hong Kong.

Over the weekend, the Hong Kong Fore Services staged a series of dramatic rescues, plucking inhabitants of several small villages from their rooftops.

Miraculously, there were no fatalities and few injuries, although the government has been criticized for not doing enough flood prevention work.

Specifically, critics say, excessive construction in rural parts of Hong Kong known as the New Territories has blocked or diverted many natural waterways making the area much more vulnerable during and after storms.

(Original Len: 2616 Condensed Len: 2925)

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