BEIJING — Flooding has devastated villages and crops in southern China, killing at least 204 people and leaving another 79 missing at the start of the summer flood season, the government said Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated.
Hunan province was the worst hit, with the death toll rising to 75 people Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Another 46 people were missing.
Three days of torrential rains last week washed away mountain villages in Hunan and damaged tens of thousands of homes, schools and other facilities, Xinhua said. Flooded roads and highways hampered rescue and evacuation efforts, it said.
More than 200,000 people have been evacuated, Xinhua said.
State television showed footage of farmers removing debris from swollen rivers, evacuees camped out in blue tents and aid workers carrying boxes of emergency supplies. Residents waded through murky thigh-high water in some city streets.
Government figures put the estimated economic losses in Hunan at $277 million.
China’s rainy season officially began Wednesday. According to government statistics, floods this year already have killed 204 and left 79 missing, Xinhua said.
Last year, more than 1,300 people were killed in summer flooding. The government is forecasting heavier rains this summer.
Crops were deluged in the southern Chongqing region after 12 hours of continuous rainfall beginning Friday night, which also destroyed scores of homes and caused numerous landslides, Xinhua said.
Authorities in one county dispatched 51 buses to transport more than 2,000 passengers stranded at the Qijiang Railway Station on their way to Chongqing, Xinhua said.
Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, who is in charge of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, urged “the full implementation of all anti-flood ... measures so that human casualties and property loss can be reduced to a minimum,” Xinhua said.
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