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China battered by more rains

BEIJING, June 15 (UPI) -- A new round of heavy rains, forecast to last through the week, lashed the already-soggy regions of China, bringing more death and destruction, officials said.

The deluges of the past two weeks, while being welcomed in the central regions hit by the worst drought in six decades, have also soaked vast regions in central, southern and eastern provinces, triggering massive flooding and landslides that have a huge toll of people, cattle and other farm animals, destroyed acres of farm lands, and driven tens of thousands of people from their homes.

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The worst of the latest round was borne by the southern regions, with at least three people reported killed in floods, landslides or lightning and more than 55,000 people evacuated, China's Xinhua news agency reported. The region's provinces include Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Zhejiang.

Rains accompanied by hailstorms and lightning also were blamed for deaths of four people and 1,000 farm animals in Inner Mongolia, the report said.

The latest death toll added to the previous one of at least 105, the government said. There is yet no word on another 63 people reported missing from the previous rounds.

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The rains in some of the areas are reported to be the heaviest in 300 years.

More than 53,000 residents had been evacuated from Xianning alone as the rains there pushed the level of a local river by more than 16 feet as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, local authorities said.

The deadly weather had affected 10.4 million people as of last Sunday, destroyed 1.6 million acres of farmland and caused direct economic loss of $1.34 billion, authorities said.

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