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Death toll from floods rises to 171 in south China
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Damages wrought by severe flooding in southeastern China, a populous region and industrial and economic hub, continue to multiply.

The region's worst storms and floods in decades have already claimed 171 lives.

People use bamboo rafts to get about yesterday in the town of Longtou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo: Xinhua]

People use bamboo rafts to get about yesterday in the town of Longtou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo: Xinhua]

More than 40 million people in 20 provinces have been affected, the office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday on its website.

About 2.3 million hectares of farmland have been submerged, and 133,000 houses have collapsed.

Direct economic losses are estimated at 27.7 billion yuan (US$4 billion), the office said.

Rain remained heavy yesterday throughout most of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where severe flooding has already forced the evacuation of nearly 1 million residents.

More than 1,250 regional roads and highways have been closed, and 130 small dams destroyed. Rising water levels have also destroyed embankments in almost 1,200 locations.

Flooding is not expected to subside in Guangxi for several days. Water levels in the Wuzhou section of the Xijiang River tributary remain dangerously high, authorities said.

In neighboring Guangdong province, home to 110 million people, water in the Beijiang River was flowing beneath the danger level yesterday.

A swollen portion of the upper Pearl River has also subsided

However, potential floods still threaten cities in the lower reaches of the Pearl River, the office said.

This region includes several large export manufacturing zones, including Zhongshan and Zhuhai.

The Macao special administrative region, which is situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, also faces continued flood warnings, the Macao Daily reported yesterday.

In Zhuhai, officials with the water resource authority said they are prepared to confront flooding.

"Cities in the upper reaches are still receiving rain. The flooding likely will be worse than our expectations," Guo Zhongqiu, director of the water bureau in Zhuhai, said.

The bureau has made significant investments to reinforce embankments, he said.

More than 2,000 soldiers have been dispatched throughout the province to help control flooding and aid in relief efforts, such as evacuating residents, delivering food supplies and building embankments.

Ten relief teams, let by government officials and experts, have visited Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and three other cities impacted by severe weather to lead flood-control and aid efforts, He Guoqing, vice-director of the water bureau in Guangdong, said.

The Guangdong Red Cross said that it has sent some 750,000 yuan worth of relief supplies to flood-hit areas in the province.

Three teams of experts have also been dispatched to provide medical aid to flood victims.

(China Daily, June 18, 2008)

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