11 Jul 2010

Scores die as floods swamp southern China

9:15 pm on 11 July 2010

Flooding, landslides and torrents of mud have killed 50 people in southern China and another 15 are missing after days of torrential rain.

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs says more than 17 million people across nine provinces have been affected by heavy downpours since the start of July, Reuters reports.

Some 42,000 homes collapsed, and another 121,000 were damaged. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops were spoilt or destroyed, with an early estimate of the cost of the rains as high as 8.9 billion yuan (NZ$1.8 billion).

Among the dead were four miners killed by a gas explosion after heavy rain cut off power at their pit in southwestern Guizhou province, stopping ventilation equipment.

A wet start to the summer shows little sign of letting up. Nearly 400 people died after heavy rains in June, and storms are forecast to hit some badly affected areas again as early as the start of this week.

That could also put extra strain on weak river banks.