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Containers washed into Songhua River raise fears of contaminated water

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Northeast China sees floods that kill 29, leave seven missing
  • Waters were so high they submerged three-story buildings

Beijing, China (CNN) -- Floods in northeast China's Jilin Province have killed 29 people, left seven missing, cut utility services and raised fears of tainted water, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported Friday, citing provincial authorities.

The waters, at one point submerging buildings up to three stories tall, collapsed 21,875 buildings and forced the evacuation of more than 254,000 people, the news agency reported, citing a statement from Jilin Province's civil affairs department.

Fast-moving waters also washed over 7,000 chemical containers into the Songhua River in Yongji County Wednesday, Xinhua said, creating fear of water contamination and a surge in prices for bottled water in some markets, though tests conducted Thursday by Ministry of Environmental Protection officials showed that the river was not contaminated.

Electricity, water supplies and telecommunications were cut in Kouqian Town, Xinhua said, citing local officials. The local train station was forced to shut down after it was surrounded by floodwater.

Jilin Province joins a lengthy list of areas affected by rain and flooding in China this summer. The floods have thus far killed 928 and left 477 missing, China's flood control and drought relief headquarters told Xinhua. A total of 134 million people in 28 provinces have been directly affected and economic losses total 176.5 billion yuan (about $26 billion).

No rain is forecast for the Jilin Province in the next 12 hours, Xinhua said.