Heavy rains kill at least 175 in southern China

A local flood victim pushes his bicycle along a flooded street on the outskirts of Yingtan, Jiangxi province June 21, 2010. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - Heavy rain across a swathe of southern China over the last week has killed at least 175 people and left 107 missing, as rivers broke their banks and landslides cut off road and rail links, state media said on Monday.

Torrential downpours have triggered flash floods, inundated crops, disrupted traffic and telecommunications, forcing the evacuation of more than 1 million people, according to Ministry of Civil Affairs figures.

The official China Daily put economic damage at 19.7 billion yuan ($2.89 billion).

The country’s disaster relief departments raised the emergency response level on Saturday after more floods hit southern China and as authorities forecast more rainfall in coming days.

Worst hit were the provinces and regions of Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi.

Over the weekend, Premier Wen Jiabao visited rescue workers and people evacuated from flooded homes in Guangxi, urging no effort be spared to tackle the disaster, Xinhua news agency said.

Only a few months ago, parts of the southwest were suffering from the worst drought in a century.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Chris Lewis and Sanjeev Miglani