567 dead, 165 missing in China floods

Agence France Presse

Beijing, June 24:

China today braced for the start of the rainy season along the flood-prone Yangtze river as the death toll from torrential downpours this year jumped to 567 with at least 165 more missing. Water levels on Pearl river remained at record highs as they surged toward Guangzhou, flood control officials said. Guangdong provincial governor Huang Huahua urged the government to fast-track relief efforts throughout the province, including Guangzhou, which was experiencing the worst rains in 90 years. Major flooding across China this year has so far wreaked economic losses valued at $2.76 billion, with more than 44 million people affected, the civic affairs ministry’s flood headquarters said.

At least 2.45 million people have been evacuated. A rain belt that has hovered over Guangxi region east to the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang since June 16 has sparked widespread havoc. Farmland and cities are submerged while residents grab what possessions

they can and flee. So far in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian 111 were confirmed dead and 68 missing through Wednesday. Twenty-two people remained missing after their bus was swept off a Fujian road and into the Min River yesterday, Xinhua reported.