Rains batter China anew with 50,000 people evacuated from flooded city

BEIJING (AP) — Swelled by torrential rains, the Yalu river that marks the Chinese-North Korean border breached its banks on both sides Saturday, inundating communities and forcing the evacuation of more than 50,000 people in China.

Flood waters punctured a dike between the river and an economic development zone in a low-lying part of the Chinese port city of Dandong, Chinese state media reported. The rain and flooding cut rail service out of the city, destroyed more than 200 houses and left at least three people missing, in addition to the 51,000 evacuated to higher ground, local officials said.

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said that about a foot (30 centimeters) of rain had fallen since midnight and the Yalu — or Amnok as its known in Korean — swamped houses, public buildings and farmland in more than five villages near Sinuiju, the city opposite Dandong.

The brief report described Sinuiju and the surrounding area as having been "severely affected" by the flooding and said officials, the military and ordinary civilians were involved in rescue work.

Much of North Korea's trade with the world passes through Sinuiju, forming a vital lifeline for the isolated, economically struggling country. Flooding in previous years has destroyed crops and pushed North Korea deeper into poverty, increasing its dependence on international food aid.

For China, the Dandong flooding is the latest disaster in the country's worst flood season in over a decade. Landslides caused by heavy rains have smothered communities in western China and accounted for most of the more than 2,500 people killed.

Emergency crews recovered more bodies Saturday from the landslide that crushed the southwestern town of Puladi, nearly doubling the death toll from Wednesday's disaster to 23 with 69 others still missing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The government's Central Weather Bureau issued an advisory Saturday warning that heavy rains would strike much of the country through the weekend.