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Autumn floods kill 57 in three provinces

(Xinhua)

08:06, September 20, 2011

Floods have left 57 people dead and nearly 30 others missing in three Chinese provinces after persistent heavy rain since the beginning of the month, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday.

More than 12 million people have been affected, while flooding has forced the evacuation of more than 1.21 million people in Henan, Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces, the ministry said.

In the northwestern province of Shaanxi, at least 27 people have died and 15 others are missing.

In neighboring Henan Province, floods have killed at least six people and cut off a main rail line on Sunday.

In Sichuan, at least 13 people were killed in the province's Bazhong City as of yesterday as the heaviest rain in 164 years pommeled the region. Another 11 people were listed as missing. Death toll in other parts of Sichuan was not specified.

Seventeen of those killed in Shaanxi were trapped after a rain-triggered landslide buried several workshops in provincial capital Xi'an.

As of 4pm yesterday, the rain had stopped and rescue efforts in the area were progressing, said Zhu Zhisheng, deputy mayor of Xi'an.

The landslide occurred on Saturday when almost 100,000 cubic meters of rock and mud were unleashed down a mountain in suburban Xi'an.

It buried a brick factory and destroyed part of a ceramics plant, Zhu said.

Details of the other people killed by the floods were not available.

"All crops have been destroyed, and most villagers have been forced to move to neighboring villages," said an elderly man surnamed Liang, a resident of Baimiao Village in Ankang City where 240,000 people were said to have been affected.

The flooding submerged large areas of farmland and rural and urban streets. As of 4pm yesterday, water levels in the flood-affected area were still rising.

Since Friday, rain has been sweeping the basins of the Hanjiang, Weihe and Jialing rivers, leading to flooding in 14 rivers and tributaries of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said.

Water levels at the Three Gorges Reservoir, the country's largest, rose to more than 160 meters last night, 16 meters higher than the alert level.

More than 650,000 hectares of crops have been affected, with 50,800 hectares destroyed. Floods have also caused the collapse of 129,000 houses across the three provinces.

The ministry had sent 5,000 tents, 20,000 cotton quilts and 20,000 sets of cotton-padded clothes to Shaanxi and allocated thousands of tents and quilts to Sichuan as of yesterday.

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