BEIJING, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Friday urged local governments to strengthen flood control efforts and try all means to save the people endangered by the disaster.
The official asked the Ministry of Water Resources and local governments to pay close attention to the development of the flood and prevent dam breaks.
Government authorities should also pay more attention to rain-triggered landslides and other disasters brought by flood, Hui said.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said, by 4 p.m. Friday, the heavy rains that began pounding south China Sunday had left 69 dead, 44 missing and forced the evacuation of 493,000 people in Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
About 5.65 million people in 172 cities in seven southern regions were affected by the heavy rains, namely Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Guizhou and Sichuan, the ministry said in a statement.
Further, the rains and ensuing floods and landslides have engulfed roughly 300,000 hectares of crops, of which 27,500 hectares of crops have been destroyed, it said, adding that about 98,000 homes have collapsed or been damaged.
Also, the heavy rains are being blamed for direct economic losses of 6.5 billion yuan (about 950 million U.S. dollars).
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters initiated a level-III emergency response plan, sending work teams to guide the flood control efforts in the worst-hit regions - Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangxi.