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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Deaths from China floods top 200
Flooding in China's Hunan province
Hunan has been hardest hit with 60 confirmed dead
The number of people killed in torrential rains at the start of China's annual flooding season has risen to more than 200.

The worst-hit areas have been the south-western provinces of Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou.

About 17m people have been affected, either losing property or being forced to flee, the Xinhua news agency said.

Local authorities have been ordered to mobilise manpower to prevent rivers and reservoirs bursting their banks.

Swept away

A week of torrential downpours in many parts of the country has killed 204 people, with 79 more missing and tens of thousands of farm animals left dead, Xinhua said.

Almost 140,000 homes and 614,000 hectares (1.5m acres) of farmland have been destroyed.

Kaixian in the south-west Chongqing municipality
Flooding in Kaixian in the south-west Chongqing municipality

Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu has demanded the swift relocation of those made homeless and measures to ensure the protection of reservoirs.

Operations are under way to provide relief materials and the health ministry has issued a circular on preventing outbreaks of disease.

Hunan in south-central China is the hardest-hit province, with 60 people confirmed dead, 43 of those in Xinshao county.

Bridges there were washed away and buildings crumbled as flood waters swept through.

Southern Guangdong province has put the cost of its flooding so far at 55m yuan ($6.7m).

Meteorologists have warned that this year could see worse flooding than last, with two massive belts of rain predicted over the summer months.

The BBC's Francis Markus in Shanghai says there is no real consensus on the extent to which climate change is to blame.

However, he says that as population growth puts ever more intense pressure on China's farm land, it is clear that such factors as erosion are playing their part in worsening the impact of natural disasters.



SEE ALSO:
Floods kill dozens in south China
03 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China begins major flood clean-up
08 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Floods death toll rises in China
08 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China flood death toll nears 400
22 Jul 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
03 Jun 04 |  Country profiles


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