A southern Chinese province was rushing to shore up dams eroded by weeks of heavy rains and high waters that already have killed at least 76 people, state media reported Wednesday.
Heavy rain would continue to batter at least seven provinces across the south on Wednesday, the National Meteorological Center said.
Authorities in Guangdong also have diverted waters from the Hanjiang River into low-lying areas, forcing more than 10,000 people to evacuate inundated villages, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Further downpours are expected through the week, according to local forecasters.
For centuries, China has relied on dams, dikes and reservoirs to control the waters of its rivers, but many were poorly built and are now feared in serious danger of collapse.
Flooding and rain-triggered landslides this year have affected sections of six provinces where more than 13 million people reside.
In the flooding this week, more than 788,000 people have been evacuated to high ground while economic losses have topped $606 million, Xinhua said.
Half of those losses are in agriculture, sending prices for leafy greens and other vegetables soaring by 40 percent in southern cities, Xinhua said.
12,000 soldiers deploy
Livestock were left to drown as people fled their homes, power lines were toppled and roads made unpassable. About 12,000 soldiers from the People's Liberation Army were dispatched to help the rescue efforts, Xinhua news agency said.
In the worst-hit area of northeastern Guangdong, paramilitary troops and other rescuers used speedboats to get supplies to 24 villages in Huangjin township which were submerged by mountain torrents and the overflowing Hanjiang River, a local official said.
"We are distributing instant noodles, rice and medicine," the official, surnamed Liu, told Reuters by telephone.
Floodwaters had reached the second floors of homes in Huangjin last Friday, forcing many to flee, leaving valuables, poultry and livestock to be destroyed, Liu said.
More than 3,000 people were living in tents in the township of 37,000 and many others were sheltering with relatives whose houses on higher ground had survived the flood, he said.
'Losses were too huge'
"We will not be able to think about restarting life until people get stabilized in their minds," said Liu. "The losses were too huge."
Farther north, authorities have warned of potentially disastrous flooding this year in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
For the first time this year, the Three Gorges Dam on the mighty Yangtze River, the world's biggest hydropower project, discharged water on Tuesday to lower the level in the reservoir after excessive rainfall upstream, Xinhua said.