China floods wreak havoc, block roads and railways; more rain due

1 / 4
A woman looks on inside a stranded vehicle on a flooded street amid heavy rainfall, in Mianyang, Sichuan province, China July 11, 2018. (REUTERS)
2 / 4
A boy stands on a flooded road amid heavy rainfall in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China July 2, 2018. (REUTERS)
3 / 4
Firefighters rescue a stranded woman on a flooded street, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China July 11, 2018. (REUTERS)
4 / 4
An aerial view shows a flooded village following heavy rainfall in Dongxiang district of Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, China July 8, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 July 2018
0

China floods wreak havoc, block roads and railways; more rain due

  • Floods in the province had caused damage to the tune of about 2.4 billion yuan ($358.74 million) by Thursday
  • The National Meteorological Center said rainfall could exceed 80 mm per hour in some regions on Saturday

SHANGHAI: Heavy rain and thunderstorms are wreaking havoc across China, with floods along major rivers destroying bridges, blocking roads and railways and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate, state media reported on Saturday.
Weather authorities are forecasting more downpours throughout the country on Saturday, with floods and landslides expected in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
Heavy rain and flooding hits much of China this time every year, often with hundreds killed, but the number of casualties this year has been relatively low, at least in the early summer, with one province reporting 12 dead and another three.
The National Meteorological Center said rainfall could exceed 80 mm per hour in some regions on Saturday. It also warned of floods in the northeast and called on authorities to halt outdoor activities and watch out for collapsing structures.
The flood-prone Yangtze river, which runs from Yunnan in the southwest to Jiangsu and Shanghai on the east coast, has seen a massive increase in water volumes, causing flooding in many of its tributaries and bringing water volumes in the giant Three Gorges reservoir close to record levels.
State news agency Xinhua reported on Friday that more than 10 highways in Sichuan were inaccessible as a result of flooding, and a bridge across Sichuan’s Min river, a Yangtze tributary, had collapsed.
Floods in the province had caused damage to the tune of about 2.4 billion yuan ($358.74 million) by Thursday, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Meanwhile, the nearby city of Chongqing had evacuated more than 80,000 residents by Friday, Xinhua reported.
Heavy rain has also caused the Yellow River, which runs through northern China, to burst its banks, blocking a section of a railway line in the northwest province of Shaanxi.
Gansu province, also in the northwest, reported 12 people killed and more than 1 million affected by a week of heavy rain and flooding, the official China Daily said on Saturday.
The normally arid region of Inner Mongolia, which had suffered weeks of drought, also issued a flood warning on Friday. ($1 = 6.6900 yuan)


French envoy returns to Italy as friendship rekindles

Updated 15 February 2019
0

French envoy returns to Italy as friendship rekindles

  • Ties between the traditionally close allies have grown increasingly tense since mid-2018, with Italy’s Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini firing verbal pot-shots at Macron and his government
  • The recall came after di Maio met members of France’s “yellow vest” movement, which has mounted sometimes violent protests against Macron’s liberal economic reform program.

PARIS: France’s ambassador to Italy returned to Rome on Friday, eight days after his recall by President Emmanuel Macron, as the European neighbors defused their worst diplomatic crisis since World War Two.
A senior French diplomat described the recall as “electro-shock therapy” necessary to end to “repeated, baseless” attacks by Italian political leaders against France.
Some commentators saw the recall as over-reaction, but French officials said it had persuaded Italian politicians to reaffirm publicly their friendship with Paris and halt their verbal onslaught — at least for now.
“We blew the whistle loud enough to make everybody stop,” the diplomat said.
The ambassador was received on his return by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, said a source at Macron’s office. He also delivered a letter from Macron inviting Mattarella to France for a state visit in the coming months.
Ties between the traditionally close allies have grown increasingly tense since mid-2018, with Italy’s Deputy Prime Ministers Luigi di Maio and Matteo Salvini firing verbal pot-shots at Macron and his government, mostly over migration.
The recall came after di Maio met members of France’s “yellow vest” movement, which has mounted sometimes violent protests against Macron’s liberal economic reform program.
Salvini initially wanted to meet Macron directly but later wrote what French diplomats described as a “polite” letter to his counterpart, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, inviting him to Italy, French officials said.
Italy’s president also spoke with Macron by telephone “and they expressed the extent to which (their) ... friendship ... was important and how the two countries needed one another,” French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau told private radio station RTL.
But French diplomats do not rule out tensions resurfacing ahead of European elections in May, with Macron and Salvini framing the campaign as a clash between pro-European “progressives” and Euroskeptic nationalists.
Migration policy and French initiatives to bring peace to Libya, a former Italian colony, without consulting Rome have both been sources of tension in recent months.
A split in the Italian coalition government over the fate of an under-construction Alpine rail tunnel linking France and Italy, could also test relations going forward.
There was no immediate comment on the French ambassador’s return from the Italian government.