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Death toll in flood-stricken south China nears 400

BEIJING (Reuters) - Workers struggled to repair a broken dyke in south China where persistent heavy rains and devastating floods have so far left at least 379 people dead, state media and government agencies said.

Slideshow ( 6 images )

Bulldozers dumped rocks and soil to repair a breach in the dykes hemming in the Fu River, in Jiangxi province, which forced over 100,000 people from their homes earlier this week.

More water may be on its way, as a flood crest passed through Xiang River in Hunan Province, making its way to the swollen Yangtze River.

“In some villages and counties along the Xiang River, farmlands and homes are flooded,” Jiang Yongpeng, an official at the Hunan Environmental Protection Bureau, told Reuters.

The waters of the Yangtze and other south China rivers normally run high in the summer, due to a combination of snowmelt from the Tibetan plateau and torrential rains in southern China.

State media is drawing parallels between this year’s floods and those of the summer of 1998, which burst some of the main levees along the Yangtze, inundated major cities, killed at least 3,700 people and left about 15 million people temporarily homeless.

So far, this summer’s floods have resulted in direct economic losses of 82.4 billion yuan ($12.13 billion), Xinhua news agency said, citing the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Heavy rains have left one dead and toppled 1,358 houses in southern Guangdong Province, Xinhua said citing the local flood control authority.

In southeastern Fujian Province, which has seen some of the heaviest damage, several rivers are still at “alarming” levels on early Saturday, with more intense rain forecast, Xinhua reported.

($1=6.791 Yuan)

Reporting by Beijing Newsroom, writing by Lucy Hornby, editing by Miral Fahmy

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