Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 17:05 UK

More floods threaten south China

Two men paddle past shipping containers in Sanshui port, China's Guangdong province, on Monday
The floods have struck at China's industrial heartland

Dykes and embankments are being reinforced in southern China amid some of the worst storms in decades.

At least 63 people have already died in nine provinces in the south - China's industrial heartland - this month, said the civil affairs ministry.

It said 1.66 million people had been evacuated from the hardest-hit areas over the past 10 days.

Up to 70,000 of those being evacuated are from Wenchuan county in Sichuan - the epicentre of May's deadly quake.

Crops submerged

Flooding from the recent heavy rain has destroyed tens of thousands of homes and submerged swathes of farmland, said the civil affairs ministry.

The ministry is quoted as saying the floods are the worst in decades, and puts economic losses so far at 14.5bn yuan ($2.1bn).

A farmer fishes in flooded fields beside Xijiang river - here passing through Sanshui, Guangdong province, on Monday
High tides and flood water meant the Xijiang River rose by metres

Soldiers have been deployed to reinforce the banks of rivers across the south.

Rivers in the country's prosperous Pearl River delta are suffering "not only the biggest-volume floods in over 50 years but simultaneously also the highest tides in over 10 years", said a report by the water resources office in Guangdong province, according to Reuters news agency.

"The water came up to here," said one 64-year-old farmer, pointing to a spot on a river embankment three or four metres (10-12 feet) above the level of a river in Guangdong.

"It washed away all my cabbages," he told Reuters.

In neighbouring Guangxi province, water levels on the Xijiang River are also said to be several metres above maximum safe levels.

Authorities say that in total this summer season, floods may have claimed up to 200 lives.

Even so, they remain less deadly than floods in recent years - such as in 1998, when more than 4,000 people reportedly died.

Inflation fears

The National Meteorological Centre has forecast more downpours over the next two days in nine provinces - including already hard-hit Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi.

But the floods are not confined to the south - authorities have also expressed concern that the Yellow River, the country's second biggest, could also burst.

That brings the risk of flooding to the central or northern provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong.

The destruction of crops risks inflationary price spikes in local food markets, and inspectors have been ordered to clamp down on unacceptably high price hikes, reported Associated Press.

China had already been suffering high inflation before the heavy rains.

Flood warning after Chinese rains
16 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Million flee south Chinese floods
15 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: China
09 May 08 |  Country profiles


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The Hindu China flooding kills 57, 1 million forced to flee - 4 hrs ago
Time China Floods Kill 57, 1M Flee - 5 hrs ago
USA Today Reports: Chinese flood kills 57, drives 1 million away - 6 hrs ago
Sydney Morning HeraldChina rains leave '65 dead or missing' - 6 hrs ago
San Francisco Chronicle Reports: Floods in China kill 57; 1 million flee - 7 hrs ago
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