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Death toll rises in China floods

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • 34 now dead in central China; at least 146 were previously reported dead in southern China
  • Flooding has affected more than 35 million people
  • Three Gorges Dam about to face major flood-control test

(CNN) -- The death toll has risen to 34 as a result of floods and landslides in two provinces in central China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

The floods caused 26 deaths in Sichuan province and left another 30 people missing, the news agency reported, citing the Sichuan Provincial Water Resources Department.

Flooding caused another eight deaths and left 57 missing in Shaanxi province, according to figures quoted by Xinhua.

Just last week, floods in southern China left at least 146 people dead and 40 missing, Xinhua reported.

Millions of people around China are reeling from some of the country's worst flooding in years. The floods have affected more than 35 million people and caused at least 26 billion yuan ($3.8 billion) in economic losses, Xinhua has reported.

Video: Flooding devastates China

Many tributaries and lakes of China's longest river, the Yangtze, are swollen and officials have warned that water levels are dangerously high and still rising.

The massive Three Gorges Dam, which towers above the Yangtze in central China, will face a major flood-control test on Tuesday, when waters are expected to reach speeds of 70,000 cubic meters per second, Xinhua sad.

That's 20,000 cubic meters per second faster than water flowed during a 1998 flood that killed 4,150, according to the news agency.

Nonstop rain caused water speeds to double in the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze over the weekend to 66,500 cubic meters per second Monday, a spokesman for the China Three Gorges Corp. told Xinhua. This speed is the fastest the Three Gorges section has seen since its 2009 completion.

The record for floodwater speeds was set in 1981 at 70,800 cubic meters per second, the spokesman told Xinhua.

Since 1998, flooding has been infrequent, and controlling the water will be "intense," according to an emergency notice obtained by Xinhua from the Bureau of Hydrographic, Yangtze River Water Resources Commission.