Flooding forces hundreds of thousands from their homes in China

Several people dead in central and southern areas of the country as rivers burst their banks after torrential rain.

    Initial damage, including the destruction of more than 1,300 homes, has been estimated at more than $500 million (Lu Boan/Xinhua via AP]
    Initial damage, including the destruction of more than 1,300 homes, has been estimated at more than $500 million (Lu Boan/Xinhua via AP]

    Flooding in south and central China has killed more than a dozen people and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, the government in Beijing said on Thursday.

    About 228,000 people have been forced to seek emergency shelter due to flooding since June 2, the country’s Ministry of Emergency Management said.

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    Initial damage, including the destruction of more than 1,300 homes, was estimated at more than $500m.

    Flooding was particularly bad in the southern region of Guangxi, where six people were listed as dead and one missing, and in Hunan province just to the north, where seven were known to have died with one person missing.

    Aerial photos published by the state-owned Xinhua news agency showed parts of the city of Guilin in Guangxi region under water.

    According to the report, continuous torrential rain caused the Lijiang River to burst its banks with its peak water level reaching 146.49m (160 yards), about half a metre above the warning line.

    Officials said that after the rainstorms, 110 rivers in eight regions swelled to above flood stage.

    Seasonal flooding generally causes heavy damage each year in the lower regions of China’s major river systems, particularly those of the Yangtze and the Pearl to the south.

    Authorities have sought to mitigate the hardship through the use of dams, particularly the massive Three Gorges structure on the Yangtze.

    China's worst floods in recent years were in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost three million homes were destroyed.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies