Floods in Central China Claim 40 Lives

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Flooding in central China has killed at least 40 people and caused nearly $100 million dollars in damage to homes and crops, the official Xinhua News Agency (search) reported Sunday.

In central Hunan province (search), 25 people died and 13 were missing after heavy rain triggered mountain floods. Fifteen people were reported killed in neighboring Guangdong province (search), while at least 18,000 people were evacuated from flooded areas.

Constant rain since Thursday also caused severe flooding and landslides in the southeastern province of Fujian, said Xinhua, but no deaths or injuries were reported.

In Hunan, high waters destroyed houses, closed businesses and damaged crops, causing $41 million in losses, the news agency said, quoting provincial flood control and drought prevention authorities.

More than 1.2 million people in 19 counties have been affected, Xinhua said without elaborating. About 30,000 local officials, 350,000 farmers and 1,000 armed forces were working to control the disaster, Xinhua said.

So far, the storms in Guangdong have caused $33 million in damage, Xinhua said.

The news agency said continuous rainfall has been recorded since early May in the Xiangjiang river, which flows into a network of lakes in central China that feed into the Yangtze River. The Yangtze, China's largest river, overflows nearly every summer. Floods on the Yangtze and other rivers in 1998 killed 4,150 people.

Last year, flooding killed more than 1,500 people by September and caused $8.2 billion worth of damage, state media reported.