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Floods Kill at Least 57 People in China

Massive flooding across a broad stretch of southern China has killed 57 people and forced more than one million others to flee their homes. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.

For China, spring and summer flooding has become a regular event. But Civil Affairs Ministry official Li Baojun says this year is different.

Li says there are floods every year, but that in some areas, this has been the highest rainfall in history. He especially points to southern Guangdong province, which has seen 250 to 500 millimeters of rain since the
second half of May.

Chinese media say at least 20 people in Guangdong have died from the flooding so far. Guangdong also was at the center of major snowstorms that struck earlier this year, cutting off transportation and power for days.

More than one million people across southern China have fled from flooding. Meanwhile, floodwaters have already damaged crops on more than 860,000 hectares of farmland.

Chinese weather forecasters predict more heavy rain in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces for the near future. This, in turn, will push river water to dangerously high levels and continue threatening places downstream.

The affected areas include parts of Sichuan province, where residents are still recovering from a powerful earthquake that struck in May.

Civil Affairs Ministry official Li says there also is a forecast of flooding along the Yellow River, which runs through northern China.

Li says he is not sure if the prediction will be realized because the Yellow River has not flooded in many years. But he says it is too early to tell because the heavy rains are not expected in that area until late July.

Meanwhile, 2008 has not been a good year for China and natural disasters. Disaster relief was spotlighted at the Shanghai International Film Festival, which opened on July 14.

Actress Gigi Liang says she is doing her part.

Liang says she chose to wear yellow to show her grief for nearly 70,000 victims of the Sichuan earthquake.