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Death Toll Mounts Following China Floods

  • Peter Simpson

More than 700 people have died and more than 300 others are missing as floods reek havoc in China.

The controversial Three Gorges Dam withstood its first real test since competition when a flood surge sent a record 70,000 cubic meters of water slamming against the dam every second, Wednesday.

Officials say the dam has prevented catastrophic flooding downstream. However, the death toll from the recent heavy rains is still the highest since 1998.

China's vice minister of water resources, Liu Ning, says the country has never been better prepared for heavy flooding, but that the region has been hit by a disaster.

Liu says 113 million people have been affected and 645,000 houses have collapsed.

He says more than seven million hectares of crops have been damaged and the direct economic loss, so far, is $21 billion .

And, China's state media says another bout of heavy rain is expected along the Yangtze region on Thursday.

Yangtze floods in 1998 killed more than 4,000 people, forced the evacuation of more than 18 million others and caused $37 billion in damage.