China Flood Warnings Cause Stampede

Thousands flee to higher ground after river bursts banks
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 17, 2008 6:59 AM CDT
Earthquake survivors carrying their belongings evacuate to higher ground from the center of earthquake-hit Beichuan County, China, Saturday, May 17, 2008.    (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
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(Newser) – Rescue efforts in Beichuan, near the epicenter of China’s earthquake, turned to chaos today as fear of flooding caused a stampede of thousands, the BBC reports. A flood warning was issued after a landslide-blocked river threatened to burst its banks, CNN reports. “Everybody just ran. People who were in the process of being rescued had to be left behind,” said a BBC correspondent.

The panic occurred after the Qingzhu river, blocked by landslides after Monday’s earthquake, created a pair of fast-rising lakes whose banks threatened to burst, leading officials to order the evacuation of 10 downstream communities. The official death toll reached 28,881 today, with 198,347 injured;  two men, one of them a German tourist, were pulled to safety after more than 110 hours buried beneath the rubble.