Image: Man climbing to floodgate
Zhou Wenjie  /  AP
A man tries to climb to a floodgate to unlock a valve in Zijin County of south China's Guangdong province June 9.
updated 6/12/2007 12:09:39 AM ET 2007-06-12T04:09:39

The death toll from flooding and landslides in southern China has risen to at least 71, with more rain forecast for the area, state media reported Tuesday.

More than 640,000 people have been forced from their homes, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The torrential rains that triggered the flooding were expected to continue over the next couple of days, Xinhua said.

It said the heavy rains have lashed the provinces of Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Fujian over the last week.

Television footage showed destroyed homes and flooded fields, and the ministry said overall economic losses have reached $436 million.

The worst-hit province was Guangdong — the heart of China’s export-driven light manufacturing industries.

Xinhua said damages in Guangdong totaled $160 million, although there were no immediate reports of any damage to factories or shipping facilities.

China suffers deaths and damage every summer when seasonal rains cause flash floods.

Big cities are sheltered by giant dikes, but fatalities are often reported in farm communities that lack protection from rising rivers, and in mountain towns hit by flash floods.

Millions of people in central and southern China live on reclaimed farmland in the flood plains of rivers.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people last year, according to the China Meteorological Administration. That was the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer flooding claimed 4,150 lives.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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