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175 killed from China floods; more than 1.6 million evacuated

From Helena Hong, CNN
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China's disastrous floods
  • NEW: Residents fear waters may not recede for another week
  • Direct economic losses reach 35.02 billion yuan ($5.4 billion)
  • Flooding has impacted 13 provinces since June 3
  • At least 8,400 houses are destroyed in Zhejiang province alone
  • China
  • Floods

Beijing (CNN) -- At least 175 people have died from flooding this month in southern and eastern China, the country's Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday.

Another 86 people are missing from the flooding that began with rainfall on June 3. The ministry said 13 provinces have been affected, more than 1.6 million people have been evacuated, and the direct economic losses has reached 35.02 billion yuan ($5.4 billion).

The flooding has destroyed at least 8,400 houses in Zhejiang province alone, a provincial agency said.

More than 4.4 million have been affected by the flooding in Zhejiang as of Monday, according to the Zhejiang Flood Control Office. About 292,000 have been evacuated, according to the agency's website.

The direct economic loss in Zhejiang has reached 7.69 billion yuan ($1.18 billion), the agency said.

Zhao Fayuan, director of the Zhejiang Flood Control Office, said the areas around the Qiantang and Dongtiao rivers have been the most severely affected.

In Zhoushan, about 155 kilometers (95 miles) southeast of Shanghai, massive pools of water submerged homes in a section of the city on Tuesday, leaving only the tops of power poles as clues of the community underneath.

Residents fear waters may not recede for another week.

At least 171,000 hectares (422,550 acres) of crops have been destroyed by flooding, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing data from local officials. A Zhejiang official said more than 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) of dikes were in danger of overflowing near Lanxi city, according to Xinhua.

The southern province of Jiangxi is grappling with the worst flooding on record there. At least 40,000 people have been evacuated from flooding over the weekend.

"The farmlands are severely affected by the flood," Qiu Qiyong of the Jiangxi Flood Control and Drought Relief Office said Monday. He said the economic loss over two days reached 0.836 billion yuan ($129 million).

Residents in Jiangxi got a bit of a respite Monday, as rainfall stopped and water levels decreased. Some of those evacuated were able to return to their homes.

Hubei province -- where the Three Gorges Dam is located -- has suffered significant flooding, according to Xinhua. And the rains caused water levels in dozens of reservoirs in neighboring Hunan province "to exceed alarming levels," the news agency said.

The flooding ended the worst drought to hit southern China in 50 years.

It came a month after the Chinese government acknowledged that Three Gorges Dam -- the world's largest hydropower plant -- was having "urgent problems" and warned of environmental, construction and migration "disasters."

The dam was originally touted for its ability to control the impact of flooding that threatens the Yangtze River Delta each summer.

But more than 1,000 towns and villages were flooded during the digging and construction of the dam's giant concrete barrier. And landslides and pollution have plagued the areas near the dam since it was built.