Serious flooding to cause price rises, inflation

08:30, June 20, 2011      

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Serious flooding caused by long-lasting torrential rains across southern China has left large regions of farmland devastated which experts say will lead to hefty food price rises in coming months, exacerbating an already heavy inflationary pressure.

China's consumer inflation surged to 5.5 percent in May, a new high in almost three years, as the government is continuing its fight against price rises in food, resources and housing. If the rains in the south do not stop, food prices will surge to new highs, experts say.

Torrential rain has left huge areas of Hubei and Zhejiang provinces under water, with more than 432,200 hectares of farmland inundated.

Weeks of rainstorms in the stricken province of southeastern Zhejiang Province have caused nearly 5 billion yuan ($772 million) of damage, reducing vegetable production by 20 percent and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40 percent, Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.

Data from Zhejiang's flood control headquarters showed that, by Sunday morning, 2.66 million people had been affected by rainstorms in 545 townships in the province.

More than 5 million people have been displaced by flooding in east and south China, and Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei warned of more severe floods. The rain is expected to continue for the next two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to Yunnan Province on China's southwestern border.

Higher food prices blamed on flooding were also reported in the eastern provinces of Anhui and Jiangxi.

According to officials in central Hubei Province, a total of 3.02 million local residents in 31 counties were affected by the rain.

Around 24,400 people have been evacuated and 261,200 hectares of crops were damaged. A total of 2,194 homes collapsed and 5,077 more were damaged.

Flooding in eastern and southern China this month has left more than 170 people dead or missing. Roads and railways have been blocked, but aid supplies are arriving.

In neighboring Jiangsu province, the city of Suzhou was hit by more than 200 mm of rainfall on Friday night, and water at the Tai Lake had already exceeded flood alert levels, the China News Service said.

By People's Daily Online
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