BEIJING (AP) – At least 75 people in northern China have died or gone missing since Monday in some of the worst flooding in years, the government said Thursday.
The figures released by the Civil Affairs Ministry come amid continuing heavy downpours that have caused havoc across usually dry regions, including the capital Beijing. Already, 576 people have been recorded as dead or missing nationwide in the first half of the year.
Beijing has been hit by constant rain since Tuesday that has forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and trains and flooded city streets. The rain has also threatened embankments along rivers in central China, with authorities mobilizing troops and heavy equipment to fill the gaps.
Tens of thousands have been evacuated from flood-hit areas and direct economic losses have risen into the hundreds of millions of dollars. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday warned the country to be prepared for more hardship and said officials found negligent in their duties would be severely punished.
China’s south has also been hit by floods that strike annually during the monsoon season that began in May, but this rainy season has been particularly wet. Water levels in some major rivers have exceeded those of 1998, when the worst floods in recent years killed 4,150 people, most of them along the Yangtze River, China’s mightiest river.
Authorities this year have already taken emergency measures, including discharging water from the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.