Death Toll Rises in China: More Rain and Mudslides Expected

A worker passes buildings destroyed by mudflows at the memorial site of Zhazidong Prison on July 19, 2007 in Chongqing Municipality, China. (China Photos/Getty Images)

Critics of the Chinese government blame unregulated logging and unchecked development for the devastating mudslides that have killed thousands, left tens of thousands of people trapped, and hundreds missing. Chinese officials say nature is to blame. Regardless of who or what may have caused these deadly floods and mudslides, the continuing destruction has put great stress on the Chinese government and its people. No immediate relief is in sight, as rains are expected to continue through the weekend.

Recent downpours in Gansu Province have caused the total death toll to rise to 1,156 as of 4 p.m. on Friday, reports China's Xinhua news agency. 588 people are still missing and over 10,000 people are trapped by floodwaters, reports Xinhua. Government rescue missions are underway, but may be challenged by new rains expected this weekend. Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces are experiencing similar devastation. A mudslide in Sichuan Province killed at least five people and left 500 people trapped. The disasters have caused about $30 billion in damage. 

Xinhua is calling this the worst mudslide disaster in decades. 

China's trouble with flooding began in July when Typhoon Conson brought torrential downpours and caused extensive damage in China's southern island of Hainan. In the same month, a toxic pollution spill killed over 1900 tons of fish in Ting River and added to the industrial devastation of China's waterways.  

Also see: Asia Society Center on U.S.- China Relations