China's flood season deaths top 700 so far

July 21, 2010 at 7:56 AM

BEIJING, July 21 (UPI) -- Rains and flooding that officials call the worst in a decade have killed 701 people and left 347 missing in China, government data indicated Wednesday.

Government information indicated flood waters inundated 27 provinces and municipalities, affecting 110 million people and forcing 8.1 million to relocate, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported. Water also flooded more than 17 million acres of farmland and destroyed 645,000 structures.

Data from the State Flood Control and Drought Relief agency and the Civil Affairs Ministry indicate direct economic loss topped $20.9 billion.

Since April, when the flood season started, more than 230 rivers reached flood stage, with some areas along the Yangtze River experiencing the worst flooding in 30 years, Xinhua said.

During a news conference Wednesday, Liu Ning, vice minister of water resources and secretary general of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief headquarters, said the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze and other structures were critical in controlling the floods.

Floodwaters breached six small reservoirs this year, but evacuations prevented casualties, Liu said.

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