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'146 dead in China rainstorms and floods'

Torrential rain and severe flooding have left at least 146 people dead and 40 missing in ten Chinese provinces, mostly along the Yangtze River following recent storms, state media today.

world Updated: Jul 16, 2010 21:37 IST

Torrential rain and severe flooding have left at least 146 people dead and 40 missing in ten Chinese provinces, mostly along the Yangtze River following recent storms, state media said on Friday.

The Xinhua news agency said that as of 4:00 pm (0800 GMT) Friday, rain-triggered floods had affected some 38.2 million people and 1.3 million had been evacuated.

The latest toll is nearly 40 percent higher than what Xinhua reported on Tuesday following rains along the Yangtze River, China's longest, over the past 10 days.

Heavy downpours in central and eastern China have caused water levels in major lakes and some river tributaries to rise alarmingly, state media has said.

A lead and zinc mine in eastern China caved in due to heavy rain and was threatening to contaminate a popular lake on Friday, Xinhua said.

A river feeding Zhejiang's Qiandao Lake -- one of the province's major tourist attractions -- has turned grey after slag from the collapsed mine leaked out, the report said.

Authorities are also bracing for damage caused by Typhoon Conson, which killed 39 people and left 84 missing in the Philippines.

It made landfall on Hainan province in southern China late Friday, packing winds of up to 126 kilometres an hour (78 miles an hour), Xinhua said, quoting the disaster prevention office of Sanya, a tourist resort.

The typhoon could worsen problems along the Yangtze River basin, which acts as an unofficial dividing line between the north and south of the country and has seen rivers and lakes swelled by days of rainfall.

The head of the flood control office at the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission told AFP on Thursday that if the region continued to be drenched, China could experience the worst floods in 12 years.

Earlier this week, 17 people were confirmed dead and 44 others were missing after torrential rain sent landslides crashing into villages in southwestern China, officials and state media said.

In Yunnan province, four people were killed and 42 others went missing when rocks came crashing down on a local township in the city of Zhaotong, a local official told AFP on Tuesday.

The disasters continue a run of rain-triggered death and destruction from flooding across a huge area of southern, central and eastern China since June that the government said has left hundreds dead.

China is ravaged every summer by heavy rains and resulting deadly flooding but the extreme weather has been especially severe this year.

Heavy rain continued on Friday in regions still recovering from June flooding.

State television broadcast images earlier in the week of flooded town streets in Anhui province in the east and inundated villages and agricultural fields in Hunan in central China.

On one swollen branch of the Yangtze in Anhui province in the city of Tongcheng, authorities were preparing to blast a leaking dyke to prevent flood waters from inundating villages, reports said.

Both Poyang Lake in eastern Jiangxi province and Dongting Lake in Hunan -- two of China's largest inland bodies of water -- were at or near their warning levels, officials had said on Monday.

Meteorological authorities have warned that still more heavy rain was expected in flood-hit regions in coming days.

Rains and flooding have caused economic losses totalling 116 billion yuan (17 billion dollars) since the start of the year, state television said.

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance on Friday jointly allocated 370 million yuan as disaster relief to the five provinces of Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan, as well as Chongqing Municipality.

First Published: Jul 16, 2010 21:34 IST