China flooding kills 57, forces 1.2 million to flee

Image: Flooding in China
In a photo released by the Xinhua News Agency, residents use rafts in flooded streets in Yangshuo county, in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Friday.Cheng Ruihua / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

At least 57 people have died and seven are missing in flooding across a broad stretch of southern China, state media reported Sunday.

More than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes across nine provinces, including Sichuan, which is still reeling from last month's earthquake that killed almost 70,000 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Heavy rain in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces will further raise water levels downstream, especially in the coastal manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong, Xinhua says. Most of those areas are expected to receive more heavy rain over the next 10 days.

The worst-hit province was Guangdong, were 20 people died and eight were still missing, Xinhua said.

Streets and houses along the Xijiang River in Guangdong were submerged in the worst flooding to hit the Pearl River Delta region in 50 years, the official China Daily newspaper said.

"A major flood is feared if rain continues," Huang Boqing, deputy director of the Guangdong flood control and drought relief headquarters, was quoted as saying.

Economic losses reach $1.5 billion
A 130-foot crack opened in the river's embankment near Changzhou, Xinhua said. Nearly 120,000 people fled to high ground in the town of Longhua when river water began to pour through the gap, it said.

"If the crack widened and the dike collapsed, the flood would directly threaten the safety" of the city of Wuzhou on Guangxi's border with Guangdong, Zhang Jinshen, a regional flood control official, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Vegetable prices in Guangdong rose by 70 percent Saturday in four cities including Guangzhou, according to the China Daily.

Economic losses have reached $1.5 billion because of the floods, the paper said. More than 45,000 houses collapsed and 140,000 have been damaged, it said.