Southern China's Guangdong province shores up dams against expected floods

A southern Chinese province was rushing to shore up dams eroded by weeks of heavy rains and high waters that have already killed at least 76 people, state media reported Wednesday.

Authorities in Guangdong have also diverted waters from the Hanjiang river into low-lying areas, forcing more than 10,000 people to evacuate inundated villages, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Further downpours are expected through the week, according to local forecasters.

For centuries, China has relied on dams, dikes and reservoirs to control the waters of its mighty rivers, but many were poorly built and are now feared in serious danger of collapse.

Flooding and rain-triggered landslides this year have affected sections of six provinces where more than 13 million people reside. More than 788,000 people have been evacuated to high ground while economic losses have topped 4.73 billion yuan (US$606 million; euro454 million), Xinhua said.

Half of those losses are in agriculture, sending prices for leafy greens and other vegetables soaring by 40 percent in southern cities, Xinhua said.

Further to the north, authorities have warned of potentially disastrous flooding this year in the middle and lower reaches of the mighty Yangtze river.

Flooding and typhoons killed 2,704 people in 2006, the second-deadliest year on record after 1998, when summer flooding claimed 4,150 lives.