ZHUJI, China, Jun (Reuters) – Torrential rain across southern and eastern China which has killed more than 100 people and triggered the evacuation of half a million has left large areas of farmland devastated as food prices surge, state media said on Sunday.
Weeks of rainstorms in the stricken province of Zhejiang in the Yangtze delta have caused nearly 5 billion yuan ($772 million) of damage, reducing vegetable production by 20 percent and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40 percent, Xinhua said.
China is hit by flooding and drought every year.
The rain is expected to continue for the next two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to rural Yunnan on China’s southwestern border.
Villagers on the outskirts of the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang returned to their homes on Sunday as flood waters began to recede.
“Right now, I am just clearing up the things in my store,” said 37-year-old shop owner Peng Gao. “It’s not about whether the floods will come again. If we don’t clear the things, we will not be able to use them again.”
Two towns were flooded and thousands were evacuated following the breach of two dykes in Zhuji on Thursday.
China has mobilized troops across the region to rescue stricken farmers and distribute food, but some villagers said the local government could have done more to prevent the flooding.
“When it first started, the breach (in the flood protection dyke) was not that huge — we could have easily fixed it,” said 22-year old villager Shou Qiongdan.
“But the government did not do anything. None of the local officials tried to salvage the situation. That’s why we have such huge economic losses and so many people being affected by the flooding.”
In neighboring Jiangsu province, the city of Suzhou was hit by more than 200 mm of rainfall on Friday night, and water at the Tai Lake had already exceeded flood alert levels, the China News Service said.
In central China’s Hubei, two people were killed after the Yangtze river and its tributaries burst their banks, with as many as 3 million people affected, Xinhua said in a separate report. Further downstream in Anhui province, three died and another 120,000 were evacuated as a result of floods.
In southwest China’s Sichuan province, five people were killed and another seven remain missing after a water diversion tunnel was flooded on Friday, the China News Service said. ($1 = 6.471 yuan)
(Additional reporting by Sabrina Mao and David Stanway; Editing by Nick Macfie)