Warning of floods in Pearl River Delta region

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The heavy rain that has wreaked havoc across large parts of South and Central China for nearly a month is expected to end on Monday, authorities said.

Houses are surrounded by flood in Shunchang County of Nanping City, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 23, 2010. Heavy rain hit the province on May 22 and 23. [Xinhua]

Houses are surrounded by flood in Shunchang County of Nanping City, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 23, 2010. Heavy rain hit the province on May 22 and 23. [Xinhua] 

Local meteorological departments warned of potential flooding, particularly around the Pearl River Delta region, where the latest round of heavy rainfall that started on Friday was concentrated, and called for extra efforts in flood prevention and control.

However, the worst-hit areas, including Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces, will see a short respite after the weekend, said chief forecaster Sun Jun of the National Meteorological Center.

Since early May, heavy rainstorms have triggered floods, landslides and burst dikes in 11 provinces and autonomous regions, causing more than 100 deaths and affecting more than 15 million people, official statistics show.

In Hunan province, the education authority in the worst-hit Taojiang county, closed primary and middle schools for 65,000 students on Friday as a precaution, said Bai Chaohai, head of the office of Hunan Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

"Students are at home for the weekend. Classes will not resume next week until the heavy rains stop," he said.

Water levels of major reservoirs were below the maximum level, but experts warned the rapid rise of water levels could cause landslides along riverbanks.

The rains have swept across 36 counties and cities in Hunan province, forcing the evacuation of 120,000. More than 2,000 buildings have been destroyed and more than 10,000 homes damaged.

As of Sunday, no casualties had been reported in Hunan, according to a spokesman of the provincial Civil Affairs Department.

In Guangdong province, the new round of heavy rains that started on Saturday prompted a landslide alert and the evacuation of more than 1,000 school children and teachers in Fengkai county.

Heavy rains that began on Friday also caused havoc in East China's Jiangxi province.

The local flood control and drought relief headquarters reported one death, with 44,600 people evacuated.

Jiangxi provincial headquarters said that 1,531 homes had been damaged and estimated the direct economic losses at 718 million yuan ($105.59 million).

The heavy rains also pounded Shanghai and Zhejiang province, but no details of the damage have been released.

However, the latest major rainfalls, which started late on Saturday and which are expected to continue until Thursday in Yunnan province, helped the drought-stricken area alleviate the dry spell, the local meteorology authority said.

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