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50 people dead after heavy rain

Flooding, landslides and torrents of mud have killed 50 people in southern China and another 15 are missing after days of torrential rain, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said late on Saturday.

world Updated: Jul 11, 2010 09:27 IST

Flooding, landslides and torrents of mud have killed 50 people in southern China and another 15 are missing after days of torrential rain, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said late on Saturday.

More than 17 million people spread across nine provinces have been affected by downpours since the start of July, the ministry said in a statement on its website (www.mca.gov.cn).

Some 42,000 homes collapsed, and another 121,000 were damaged and hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops were spoilt or destroyed, with an early estimation of the cost of the rains as high as 8.9 billion yuan ($1.3 billion).

Among the dead were four miners killed by a gas explosion after heavy rain cut off power at their pit in southwestern Guizhou province, stopping ventilation equipment.

A wet start to the summer shows little sign of letting up. Nearly 400 people died after heavy rains in June, and storms are forecast to hit some badly affected areas again as early as the start of this week.

That could also put extra strain on weak river banks.

Along many rivers that feed into the Yangtze, China's longest river, water has risen over flood warning lines -- in one part of southwestern Chongqing municipality, by some 3 metres (10 ft), the official Xinhua news agency said.