Natural disasters have affected more than 210 million people in China this flood season, around one-sixth of the population, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Saturday.
Floods and landslides have killed 1,292 people and left another 332 missing, a senior official said, adding that crops on at least 15.43 million hectares of farmland have been destroyed and 1.22 million houses ruined.
Direct economic losses were estimated to have amounted to 155.8 billion yuan (US$19.3 billion), Xinhua News Agency quoted Vice Minister of Water Resources E Jingping as saying.
E said that this season, the Pearl River basin, the Minjiang River in Fujian, the mainstream of the Huaihe River, and the Hunjiang River and Taizi River of the Liaohe River basin have been swept by serious floods.
The middle and downstream of Xijiang River in the Pearl River basin suffered a disastrous flood, and Hunan and Heilongjiang were hit by serious mountain torrents, mud-rock flows and landslides.
The hardest-hit areas include the provinces of Fujian, Anhui, Zhejiang and Hainan in south and east China, which have also been plagued by seven typhoons and cyclones that claimed 221 lives.
The figures were released as east China recovered from Typhoon Longwang, which left at least 95 people dead. Eighty of them were police cadets swept away in a landslide in Fujian.
According to the flood-control authority, this year's major flooding period is drawing to a close.
However, continued heavy rainfall during the National Day holidays has caused the biggest flood in a decade along the lower reaches of the Weihe River and the middle reaches of the Hanjiang River in Shaanxi and Hubei provinces.
Sections of the rivers running through Shaanxi in northwest China overflowed, forcing 359,000 people to be evacuated.
More than 4.6 million people in 61 counties were affected by floods and mud slides, which ruined 79,800 hectares of crops and destroyed 39,200 houses.
Floodwaters also damaged railways, highways, cable lines and irrigation infrastructure in the province. About 30,000 people have been mobilized to reinforce embankments.
But the flood gradually receded as the water level fell below warning levels late on Thursday, Xinhua reported.
Central China's Hubei was also dealing with torrential rains and the threat of widespread floods.
The water level in the middle reaches of the Hanjiang River has risen above the danger mark. Some 20,000 people were toiling to shore up embankments and watch for breaches.
The peak of the flood was expected to hit Xiantao, a city near the provincial capital Wuhan, on Friday night.
Floods have always been part of life in China, although officials have said this year has been more devastating than usual, starting early from mid-February, instead of generally from May to October.
Since serious flooding of the Yangtze River in 1998, China has spent billions on flood mitigation.
Water authorities have set a target for overcoming natural disasters during the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), said Wang Shucheng, minister of water resources.
In the following five years, the ministry will further reinforce flood-control systems with the operation of frequently used flood detention basins. These will protect against damage and enable floodwaters to be used as a resource, Wang said.
(China Daily October 8, 2005)