Image: A resident rows a makeshift boat to make his way at a flooded street in Chaohu, Anhui Province, China, July 2, 2016. Picture taken July 2, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Severe flooding across central and southern China over the past week has killed almost 130 people, damaged more than 1.9 million hectares of crops and led to direct economic losses of more than 38 billion yuan ($5.70 billion), state media said on Tuesday.
Premier Li Keqiang traveled on Tuesday to Anhui, one of the hardest-hit provinces, where he met residents and encouraged officials to do everything they could to protect lives and livelihoods. Li was also to visit Hunan province.
Heavy rainfall had killed 128 people across 11 provinces and regions and 42 people are missing, state news agency Xinhua reported.
More than 1.3 million people have been forced out of their homes, it said.
Weather forecasts predicted more downpours during what is traditionally China’s flood season.
Xinhua said more than 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of cropland had been damaged and another 295,000 hectares had been destroyed, resulting in direct economic losses of 38.2 billion yuan.
More than 40,000 buildings have also collapsed, it added.
It was not clear how that would affect the summer grain harvest, which was expected to reach 140 million tonnes this year.
The stormy weather also took a toll on farm animals.
In Anhui, the flooding killed some 7,100 hogs, 215 bulls and 5.14 million fowl, the China News Service reported.
In the southern province of Hunan, torrential rain and flooding had forced more than 100 trains to stop or take detours since midnight on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
In one city, about 3 tonnes of gasoline and diesel leaked from a petrol station on Monday, contaminating floodwater that flowed into a river, it said.
Water in 43 rivers in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River had exceeded warning levels and patrols were monitoring dykes, Xinhua quoted Chen Guiya, an official with the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, as saying.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Addititional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)
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