At least 68 people were reported dead or missing because of fierce weather in China over the past week, with most of the fatalities the result of flooding in the nation's southwest, state press said yesterday.
The new toll comes after the state flood and drought prevention headquarters said last week that floods, landslides and storms had taken the lives of 233 people nationwide from the beginning of the year through July 2.
Since then, 26 people have died and 17 gone missing in flooding in Sichuan Province in China's southwest where torrential rains have pummelled the region through Saturday, Xinhua news agency reported.
So far 320,000 people have been evacuated in 43 cities and counties in the province, where flooding last week destroyed up to 20,000 homes and vast areas of croplands and cut off roads and electricity, it said.
Total economic losses across the region are estimated at 3 billion yuan (US$395 million), it added.
On the Yangtze River, which flows down from Sichuan, rescuers have called off a search for five missing boatmen due to a flood wave that is expected to sweep through the region above the Three Gorges Dam where their boat sank on Friday, Xinhua said in a separate report.
The Beijing Morning Post said that torrential rains in northern Shaanxi Province have also taken the lives of five people and left another person missing, leaving reservoirs swollen and as many as 20 townships left without electricity.
Water levels exceeded warning marks along China's Huaihe river in eastern Anhui, where officials are feverishly working to shore up dykes and divert water to the reservoirs and lakes in the lower reaches.
A rare tornado in Anhui and neighboring Jiangsu last week killed 14 people and injured nearly 150 others as 100kph winds destroyed hundreds of home in the region.