Thousands Flee China Floods

Heavy rains and floods across China have left 57 people dead, dozens of others missing and hundreds injured, while more than a million residents have been evacuated from their homes, the government said.

Unprecedented rains over the past week have swamped parts of northern, central and southwest China, and although the affected region is breathing a tentative sigh of relief as the downpours pause, rivers continue to swell.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement that the rain had forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.2 million people from their homes.

“Constant strong rainfall has caused serious flood disasters in Sichuan (southwest), Shaanxi (north) and Henan (central China) — 12.3 million people were affected, 57 died and 29 are missing,” it said late Monday.

More than 120,000 houses have collapsed and economic losses from damaged houses, crops and land is estimated to have reached 17.27 billion yuan ($2.7 billion), it added.

Authorities have dispatched work teams to help with relief efforts, and plan to distribute thousands of tents, cots, blankets and clothing, the ministry said.

One area of the southwestern province of Sichuan, Bazhong, was severely affected, with 13 people left dead, 10 missing and 156 injured, a spokesman for the local government told the official China Daily newspaper.

Over the weekend, officials in Sichuan’s Dazhou and Guangan regions ordered the evacuation of over 600,000 people as major tributaries to the Yangtze — China’s longest river — exceeded danger levels, the Xinhua news agency said.

The Jialing river was recorded nearly seven metres (23 feet) above alert levels, and waters were expected to rise to their highest levels since record-keeping began in 1847, it added.

China is hit by big downpours every summer. Last year saw the nation’s worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

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