Floodwaters begin to recede in hard-hit southern China, workers finish fixing dike breach

BEIJING (AP) — Floodwaters began receding in hard-hit southern China on Sunday and workers finished repairing a dike breach that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people.

Torrential rains pummeled a wide swath of China's south and more than 3 million people had to be evacuated from their homes over the past two weeks, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

China sustains major flooding annually along the mighty Yangtze and other major waterways, but this year's floods have been especially devastating, killing 235 people while 109 remain missing, the ministry said.

Floods have also caused 53 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) in direct economic losses, it said.

Water had receded enough that some people returned to inspect their homes over the weekend, China Central Television said. Residents returned to find their mud-brick houses covered in sludge in areas that had been under 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) of water after a reservoir overflowed in Malong county of Yunnan province.

Workers using dump trucks and earth movers finished repairing a breach in the dike on the Fu River in Jiangxi province on Sunday, according CCTV. A second breach, 430 feet (130 meters) wide, was not immediately fixed in order to channel out water, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Still, the danger was not completely over for those in the disaster zone. While water in many major rivers was receding, levels in other rivers were still causing concern and even rising in at least two lakes, the state flood control office said.

Efforts also focused on other provinces with crews cleaning debris from mudslides off highways and railway tracks, CCTV said. Local authorities were ordered to step up patrols to inspect for damage.