Heavy rains in China leave at least 65 dead or missing
Beijing (AFP) June 15, 2008
Heavy rains in southern and eastern China have left at least 65 people dead or missing, while more than one million residents have been evacuated, state media said Sunday.
Rains were expected to further pound southern China in the coming days, with rising river levels threatening towns in Jiangxi, Guangxi and Guangdong provinces, the state meteorological bureau said.
According to the civil affairs ministry and provincial officials, at least 57 people have been killed and eight are missing following torrential rains in nine provinces over the past week, Xinhua news agency said.
More than 1.27 million people have been evacuated in the hardest-hit regions, with large swathes of farmland submerged and economic losses already totalling more than 10 billion yuan (1.45 billion dollars), it said.
Almost 18 million people had been affected by flooding while more than 141,000 homes had been wrecked or damaged, the report added.
State television showed people rowing boats in the middle of towns in flooded areas, while in rural areas farmers frantically filled sand bags in a bid to stop swollen rivers spilling their waters on to croplands.
The rains have washed away roads across the nine provinces and many areas have been hit by landslides, Xinhua said.
Prosperous Guangdong province was the worst affected. Rains there left at least 20 people dead, with flooding in the Pearl River delta the worst in decades, it added.
The Guangdong government issued an emergency flood alert throughout the province as levels in tributaries of the Pearl River hit or were surpassing danger levels, Xinhua said.
The government had dispatched 10 special boats to Changle city, one of the worst-hit areas in Guangdong, where up to 100,000 people were being evacuated.
In parts of Guangdong, up to 415 millimetres (16.6 inches) of rain fell in a 24-hour period from Friday to Saturday, Xinhua said, while the freakish weather dumped up to 451 millimetres in parts of neighboring Fujian province.
Food prices, already a main driver of inflation in China, were also rising due to the flooding, with vegetable prices in some Guangdong cities up between 30 percent and 70 percent on Saturday alone, it said.
In Guangxi province, which lies west of Guangdong, officials warned of rock and mudslides in mountainous areas where torrential rain has been responsible for 14 deaths since last week, Xinhua said in a separate report.
A section of the Xijiang River in Guangxi burst its banks on Sunday evening, forcing the evacuation of more than 3,000 people, Xinhua said, adding there were no reports of casualties.
By late Saturday, 134 roads had been blocked and 22 bridges damaged in the province, leading to jams along highways and nearly 1,500 trucks stranded, it said.
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