Chinese floods kill at least 535 and force millions to leave homes

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The Independent Online

Some of the worst flooding in a century in parts of China has killed at least 536 people in two weeks, and forecasters are predicting more rain in the area where rising waters have already forced the evacuation of 1.4 million residents.

Some of the worst flooding in a century in parts of China has killed at least 536 people in two weeks, and forecasters are predicting more rain in the area where rising waters have already forced the evacuation of 1.4 million residents.

Water reached the top of telephone poles in parts of the south yesterday, as people used small boats to navigate flooded streets.

Government forecasters warned of more torrential rains in the densely populated south, especially around the Pearl River Delta, northwest of Hong Kong - the heart of China's booming export industries.

Damage was worst in the south, where rains and mudslides killed at least 97 people this week and left 41 missing. People were evacuated from flood-prone areas across five provinces.

Nationwide, 137 people are missing.

Most damage in Guangdong appeared to be to farms, with export-oriented factories largely unaffected, said Ruby Zhu, of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce. "It doesn't seem serious now," she said. "But if it gets more serious, we're not sure what will happen in Guangdong province."

The death toll was higher than most of the rainy seasons of the past decade, though still below that of 1998, when 4,150 people died in summer flooding.

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