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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Death toll from China rains rises
A rescue worker carries a resident through flood waters in Chongqing. File photo
Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes
Severe weather in several parts of China has killed more than 150 people in the past week, state media say.

In the eastern province of Shandong, the death toll has risen to 40 since torrential rains hit on Wednesday.

Forty-two bodies have been found around Chongqing, hit by floods and mudslides. Several people remain missing and 300,000 have been evacuated.

In the southern Yunnan province, at least 59 people have died, many in a landslide triggered by heavy rains.

The Xinhua news agency quoted local officials as saying that there was a severe risk of flooding in the coming days along the Huai River, which runs through several provinces in central and eastern China.

Water levels on the Huai are expected to remain very high for at least 10 days, officials said.

Map of China

The storms have not only claimed lives, but also caused damage estimated at millions of dollars and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

State TV showed images of President Hu Jintao visiting flooded areas of Chongqing on Sunday, meeting victims and sloshing his way through flooded streets.

Describing the rains as a "once-in-a-century" disaster, Mr Hu offered his condolences to flood victims and asked them if they were having problems obtaining food or cooking rice, the Associated Press reported.

"I am sad as you are sad. We must have the determination to overcome this," Mr Hu said.

The latest deaths mean more than 400 people have perished in floods and landslides in recent weeks across the country.

According to state media reports, some 266mm (10.5 in) of rain fell in less than 24 hours in Chongqing on Monday and Tuesday, said to be the largest volume since records began in 1892.

Deadly flooding is an annual problem in China, with millions of people in central and southern parts of the country living on reclaimed farmland in the flood plains of rivers.

Last year some 2,704 people died in flooding and typhoons in China, according to the country's Meteorological Administration.


SEE ALSO
Toll rises in China rain storms
19 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Record storm in S China kills 37
18 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
360 killed in China rainy season
11 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Flooding in China
10 Jul 07 |  In Pictures
Country profile: China
22 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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