One million people flee Chinese floods

At least 55 people have died and seven are missing in flooding across a broad stretch of southern China, state media reported today.

More than 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes across nine provinces, including Sichuan, which is still reeling from last month's earthquake that killed almost 70,000 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Heavy rain in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces will further raise water levels downstream, especially in the coastal manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong, Xinhua says. Most of those areas are expected to receive more heavy rain over the next 10 days.

Just to the south, communities with tens of thousands of people were threatened by the swollen Xijiang River in the Guangxi region, where a 131-foot crack has opened in an embankment near Changzhou, Xinhua said.

Nearly 120,000 people fled to high ground in the nearby town of Longhua when river water began to pour through the gap, it said.

"If the crack widened and the dike collapsed, the flood would directly threaten the safety" of the city of Wuzhou on Guangxi's border with Guangdong, Zhang Jinshen, a regional flood control official, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

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