China / Society

Heavy rain kills 43 in South China

By XU WEI ( Updated: 2015-05-26 17:04

Floods caused by torrential rain have killed 43 people and affected another 7.8 million in Southern China as of Tuesday, the country's flood control authority said.

Persistent rainfall this month has resulted in 76 rivers bursting their banks, with four hit by floods of historical proportions, according to State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Another 14 people are missing and 15,000 houses have been destroyed, with direct economic losses estimated at 10.9 billion yuan ($1.76 billion).

Zhang Jiatuan, spokesman for the flood control headquarters, said the situation was less severe than the same period in previous years.

The number of deaths is down by 38 percent and people affected down by 14 percent. "But the economic loss has doubled due to the expanding economy in these areas," he said on Tuesday.

Zhang warned of the chance of more severe flooding in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in coming months.

"There is a big chance that El Nino will exert a heavy influence on the Yangtze River areas and that could increase the chances of extreme weather," he said.

El Nino is a warming of sea temperatures in the Pacific that affects wind patterns, triggering floods and droughts. Previous El Ninos have led to extreme weather events in China.

The authority is expecting regional flooding in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River area.

"We are preparing for the worst scenarios and to make sure we are fully prepared when the flood hits," he said.

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