Flooding forces schools to suspend classes in south China province
 
Many primary and secondary schools in Hainan, China’s southernmost island province, canceled classes on Friday due to the worst flooding in decades.

Many roads were flooded in Haikou, capital of Hainan, said Wang Yayan, deputy director of the education bureau of Haikou. "We decided to close some schools for two days to ensure the safety of students and teachers."

In Sanya City, a tourist resort, 29 schools were closed Friday and classes were expected to resume Sunday.

In Wanning and Qionghai cities, all primary and secondary schools were closed Friday and directors of the local education authorities said further suspensions of classes would be considered if the rain continued.

The flooding, caused by the heaviest torrential rains in Hainan since 1961, has left at least one person dead and three people missing.

More than 210,000 people had been evacuated after about 1,160 villages were submerged by floodwaters.

The downpours, which started on Sept. 30, had incurred 1.13 billion yuan (169 million U.S. dollars) in economic losses.

Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday said that saving lives must be the top priority for flood relief work in Hainan.

Hu, also General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said people who were threatened by floods should be rapidly relocated, and measures should be taken to prevent secondary disasters and reduce losses.

More than 18,000 soldiers have participated in flood-relief in more than 10 regions badly hit by the flooding.

The downpour persisted through the National Day week-long break from Oct. 1 to 7, a week that millions of Chinese choose to travel. Hainan, an island striving to become an international tourist zone, saw tourist revenues and visitor numbers level out during the "golden week."

A total of 630,000 people visited Hainan during the week, up by only 5.2 percent, a much smaller increase companied with double-digit jump in many other tourist attractions in China.

Hainan tourism relies predominantly on its tropical climate, and bad weather causes the industry to suffer.

"Many places were flooded after the torrential rains, which exposed the underdeveloped city drainage system and tourist infrastructure. Future investment will be put into tackling these problems," said Wu Kunqiong, deputy chief of Hainan Tourism Development Commission.

The provincial meteorology bureau said even though the rainfall had abated, it was still likely to persist through to Monday.
 

 
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