Death toll in southern China flooding reaches 90 as officials say 1.4M residents evacuated

BEIJING (AP) — The death toll from flooding this week in southern China rose to 90 Saturday, and 1.4 million people were evacuated as the inundated region prepared for more heavy storms.

Fifty people were also missing in nine provinces and regions across China's south, the state flood control office said. Water levels have surged passed safe levels in dozens of rivers, including the Pearl River in the heart of China's manufacturing region.

China Central Television footage Saturday showed people stranded on rooftops of nearly completely submerged homes.

Soldiers waded through raging brown water carrying students from an elementary school in Nanping city, in the eastern province of Fujian. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the school Saturday morning after being stranded by flooded roads, the report said.

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, 5.5 million people had been affected by flooding including injuries sustained and property losses incurred, an official at the flood control office said. He would not give his name, as is common with Chinese officials.

The office's deputy director said more than 1.4 million residents had been moved from low-lying areas since Thursday, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Thirty-five people died in landslides caused by heavy rain, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. The flood control office told The Associated Press it was not clear if that number was included in the overall death toll.

Xinhua cited local officials and said 25 of the landslide deaths occurred late Friday in Fujian province.

The National Meteorological Center warned of heavy rains in the region until Sunday afternoon.

Strong storms have collapsed reservoirs, overflowed rivers, caused landslides and power outages, and damaged highways, the disaster relief agency website said.

China Daily reported nine local officials in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region had been punished for dereliction of duty in flood work, including a reservoir monitor caught playing poker.

China's rainy season, which began in May, follows the worst drought in a century for the southern Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi regions. Drought affected 61 million people, leaving millions without drinking water and 12 million acres (5 million hectares) barren since last year.


Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report