Floods hit China: almost 130 dead, 1.9 million hectares of crops damaged

More than 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of cropland had been damaged and another 295,000 hectares had been destroyed

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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 (£4.3 billion), state media said on Tuesday.

Rescuers save a resident from a flooded building in Chongqing, China. Flooding, an annual problem in China, has been exacerbated by urban sprawl and poor drainage infrastructure in many cities. REUTERS/Stringer
Rescuers save a resident from a flooded building in Chongqing, China. Flooding, an annual problem in China, has been exacerbated by urban sprawl and poor drainage infrastructure in many cities.
REUTERS/Stringer

Premier Li Keqiang travelled 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.

More than 40,000 buildings have also collapsed

An employee touches pigs which cannot be moved away from a flooded farm, due to an environmental protection and epidemic prevention measure, before he leaves for a safer place in Liu'an, Anhui Province, China, July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
An employee touches pigs which cannot be moved away from a flooded farm, due to an environmental protection and epidemic prevention measure, before he leaves for a safer place in Liu'an, Anhui Province, China, July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

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.

A rider drives past a flooded street in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province.  REUTERS/Stringer
A rider drives past a flooded street in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province.
REUTERS/Stringer
An employee wipes away tears as he walks through a flooded farm, where pigs cannot be moved away from due to an environmental protection and epidemic prevention measure, before he leaves for safer place in Liu'an, Anhui Province.  REUTERS/Stringer
An employee wipes away tears as he walks through a flooded farm, where pigs cannot be moved away from due to an environmental protection and epidemic prevention measure, before he leaves for safer place in Liu'an, Anhui Province.
REUTERS/Stringer
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
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
A stadium is flooded after heavy rainfall in Ezhou, Hubei Province, China, July 2, 2016. Picture taken July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
A stadium is flooded after heavy rainfall in Ezhou, Hubei Province, China, July 2, 2016. Picture taken July 2, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
Rescuers take a boat to check around at a flooded road in Shucheng, Anhui Province, China, July 3, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
Rescuers take a boat to check around at a flooded road in Shucheng, Anhui Province, China, July 3, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer 2016-07-05T175154Z_2_LYNXNPEC641E0_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-FLOODS

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Addititional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)