China predicts further downpours after 66 die

Updated: 2007-06-11 19:40

Torrential rain has killed at least 66 people in floods, house collapses and rockslides across southern China with more heavy rain predicted for much of this week, state media said on Monday.

"We've got experience of floods, but I've never known a flood like this," Zhong Shizhan, a resident of Mei county in Guangdong province, was quoted as saying by the Southern Metropolis Daily. The National Meteorological Centre forecast heavy rain south of the Yangtze, China's longest river, and continued downpours in the south of the country until Thursday.

One official said the rain had stopped in the northeastern Guangdong city of Meizhou where a local government Web site showed pictures of people standing waist deep in brown flood waters and others filling sandbags to keep the waters at bay.

Flooding had destroyed 48,000 houses and damaged 94,000 in the region and forced the evacuation of about 591,000 people. Nearly 9 million people had been affected. Twelve people were missing.

A total of 294,800 ha, or 1,140 sq miles, of crops had been damaged and 53,000 ha had been destroyed.

From Wednesday to Saturday, continuous rain, mudslides and floods hit the provinces of Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Fujian.

China's typhoon season is just getting under way in the south. Experts last month warned that the Yangtze could flood badly this year for the first time since 1998 when flooding killed more than 3,000 people.

Other parts of the country were reeling from intense heat, with the northeastern province of Jilin seeing temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), Xinhua news agency reported.

Jilin's Tonyu county recorded temperatures of 41.6 degrees, the highest in local history, the report said.

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