Raging rivers swollen by torrential rains over the past few days have wreaked havoc in southern and eastern China, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake.
Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi are the worst affected with a death toll of at least 80 reported by last night, with 35 people missing, hundreds of thousands evacuated and millions affected.
There was also extensive damage to property and crops, the Ministry of Civil Affairs reported last night.
The "water levels of the Xijiang River in Guangxi and Minjiang River in Fujian kept rising relentlessly," said a report released by the State Flood-Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
By late evening yesterday, "the worst flood on record was seen on the Mengjiang, a tributary of Xijiang River," a source with national flood-control authorities said. The Xijiang itself is a tributary of the Pearl River.
At least 32 people were confirmed dead and 23 missing, according to local authorities.
Continuous flooding affected 5.72 million people in the autonomous region and 333,000 people have been moved to safer places.
More than 20,000 residents were evacuated from low-lying areas in the eastern parts of Wuzhou, an industrial city along the Xijiang, before floodwaters burst through the banks.
The water level at Wuzhou reached 26.08 meters by 2:00 PM yesterday, 8.78 meters higher than the danger level; and was rising by 10 centimeters per hour, according to local media.
The central and northern parts of Guangxi have been hit by heavy rains since June 18, with the water level in many local rivers exceeding the danger mark.
Figures from local authorities show that flooding caused an economic loss of 1.67 billion yuan (US$201 million), damaged 328,000 hectares of crops and toppled more than 20,000 houses.
Floods and landslides have killed 12 and five are missing. In Shunchang county in northern Fujian, five people were buried alive and three are missing in dozens of landslides.
About 1.59 million people in 34 counties in five cities -- Nanping, Sanming, Ningde, Fuzhou and Longyan -- were affected; and 317,00 relocated to safety.
By yesterday afternoon, the water level at Zhuqi, a hydrographic station along downstream Minjiang, reached 11.48 meters, about 1.7 meters higher than the warning level, and was flowing at a record 25,000 cubic meters per second.
However, no further damage was reported from the Minjiang region.
At least 36 people have been killed and 10 others are missing. About 25,000 people at risk from flooding waters have been moved to safety.
More than 540,000 have been affected, according to the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Water Conservancy.
The cities of Heyuan, Shaoguan, Huizhou and Zhaoqing were the hardest hit.
More than 22,000 houses were destroyed or damaged and swathes of cropland were flooded. Sections of highways, river dykes and bridges were breached by the flood, one of the worst seen in many years.
Thousands of passengers were stranded or delayed at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport; and more than 20,000 were delayed at railway stations in four cities after the Guangdong Section of the Beijing-Kowloon Railway was destroyed by landslides.
Meteorologists warned in Beijing yesterday that "extensive torrential rains will continue in southeastern parts of South China and areas south of the Yangtze River until Friday."
Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday urged local officials to fulfill their duties and make safety a priority of their flood-control and disaster relief measures as deluges have claimed hundreds of lives over the past days.
(China Daily June 23, 2005)