(AFP) – Sep 20, 2011
BEIJING — Nearly 1.7 million people have been forced to abandon their homes and dozens more have died in heavy flooding across large parts of China, the government said Tuesday.
Torrential rains have swamped parts of northern, central and southwest China, causing serious flooding in several provinces and forcing mass evacuations, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement.
Officials in the southwestern province of Sichuan ordered more than 600,000 people to evacuate as major tributaries to the Yangtze -- China's longest river -- exceeded danger levels, the Xinhua news agency said.
In all, 1.66 million people across the country have been forced to leave their homes, according to the civil affairs ministry, which put the total deaths since the heavy rains began at 70, with another 32 missing.
More than 120,000 houses have collapsed and economic losses from damaged houses, crops and land are estimated to have reached 26.09 billion yuan ($4.08 billion), it added.
Emergency workers have been dispatched to the affected areas with thousands of tents, cots, blankets and clothing, the ministry said, adding that forecasts showed the seasonal rains were nearing an end.
The Jialing river, a tributary of the Yangtze that flows from northwest to southeast China, was recorded nearly seven metres (23 feet) above alert levels, and waters were expected to rise to their highest levels since record-keeping began in 1847.
China is hit by big downpours every summer. Last year saw the nation's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing.
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