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Beijing - Torrential rains in southern China unleashed surging floodwaters that have swept through small cities and farming villages, claiming at least 66 lives, forcing nearly 600,000 people to be relocated and destroying millions of dollars in property, the state news media reported Sunday.
Rescue efforts were underway in the southern provinces of Hunan, Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi, as the floodwaters swept through mountainous regions prone to landslides. Nearly 9 million people were directly affected by the flooding, and factories and other enterprises have been closed in some areas, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.
Torrential rain has killed at least 66 people in floods, house collapses and rockslides across southern China with more heavy rain predicted for this week.
The National Meteorological Centre forecast heavy rain south of the Yangtze River, China's longest, and continued downpours in the south of the country until Thursday.
One official said the rain had stopped in the north eastern Guangdong city of Meizhou where a local government Web site showed pictures of people standing waist deep in brown flood waters and others filling sandbags to keep the waters at bay.
Flooding had damaged 94,000 houses and destroyed 48,000 in the region and forced the evacuation of about 591,000 people, the China Daily said.
Nearly nine million people had been "affected". Twelve people were missing.
A total of 294,800 hectares of crops had been damaged and 53,000 hectares had been destroyed.
From Wednesday to Saturday, continuous rain, mudslides and floods hit the provinces of Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Jiangxi and Fujian.
China's typhoon season is just getting under way in the south.
Experts last month warned that the Yangtze could flood badly this year for the first time since 1998 when flooding killed more than 3,000 people.