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China: Floods in the south force evacuations, destroy property

Heavy rainfall in southern China has caused severe flooding, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.

In Guangdong, the country's most populous province, the downpour destroyed crops, collapsed roads and swept away houses and cars.

Hundreds of thousands impacted

There have been severe weather warnings in two of the countries provinces as floodwaters rise. China's state run Xinhau news agency reported that nearly 500,000 people have been impacted in Guangdong alone, with economic losses amounting to 1.756 billion yuan ($261 million).

With more rainfall forecast in the coming days, parts of the province suspended classes and shut down offices and public transport.

According to the water resources ministry, on Wednesday 113 rivers in China flooded, with seven rising above historic floodwater levels. On Sunday, Chinese authorities issued the year's first red alert, the most severe warning, for possible mountain torrents.

Meanwhile, storm warnings were issued for much of the eastern provinces, including the capital city, Beijing.

Stockpiling leading to shortages

In Yingde, a city in Guangdong authorities have evacuated some residents to other parts of the city and advised others not to leave their homes. Residents say the stores have run out of staple foods like oil and rice due to people stockpiling goods.

"The water came very fast, and I believe many have not prepared foodstuff in their homes," said a user on social media platform Weibo. Other users said water and power have also been cut.

Trapped villagers also had to be rescued from their inundated homes in Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces.

Central and southern areas in China are likely to be most hit by regular flooding during the summer months. But this year's rainfall is the worst in decades, with some areas already under strict COVID rules that have restricted travel and much of ordinary life.

Hundreds of people died of flooding in central China after record rainfall last year.

In 1998, more than 2,000 people died, and almost 3 million homes were destroyed in floods along the Yangtze River.

ss/kb (AP, Reuters)