Asia

Floods in China Kill 377 as South Braces for More Rain

June 24: Llocal residents transfer their belongings on a boat in Xiangtan county, in central China's Hunan province.

June 24: Llocal residents transfer their belongings on a boat in Xiangtan county, in central China's Hunan province.  (AP/Xinhua)

BEIJING -- The death toll from storms that have pounded southern China for more than a week has climbed to 377, the government said Friday.

The toll is expected to rise as 142 people are missing and more rain is expected, according to the China Meteorological Administration website. That threatens to hamper rescue efforts that have seen 4.4 million people evacuated from their homes.

The death toll climbed from 211 in the past two days as heavy rains fell in the southern regions of Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangxi, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on its website.

The government says the flooding has caused about $11 billion in damages.

Workers and soldiers began repairing two breaches along the Fuhe river near Fuzhou city in Jiangxi province on Friday, said a report posted on the Jiangxi Flood Control Headquarters website, days after it overflowed its banks and a dike on another portion of the river burst, forcing the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Thousands of soldiers and workers transported stones and sandbags to block and redirect water, with the goal of patching up the breach within the next week, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Fuzhou to rally rescuers and comfort victims, wearing galoshes and wading through floodwaters in the disaster area, according to footage aired on China Central Television.

Storms have pounded southern China for more than a week, collapsing 368,000 houses, as landslides have cut off transportation and rivers and reservoirs have overflowed.

China sustains major flooding annually along the mighty Yangtze and other major rivers, but this year's floods have been especially heavy, spreading across 10 provinces and regions in the south and along the eastern coast.