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Over 500,000 evacuated as Chinese river reaches highest level since 1955

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A man paddles a boat carrying local residents through a flooded area in Banshan Cun, Zhejiang province June 17, 2011.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A man fishes next to a broken levee where grape and strawberry fields were flooded in Banshan Cun, Zhejiang province on June 17. Pelting rain in parts of central and southern China has forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and prompted the government to demand safety checks on vulnerable dams, news reports said on Thursday.

AFP - Getty Images

A young boy watches the flood waters from the roof of his home in Laibin, southwest China's Guangxi province on June 16. China was pounded by more summer rain forcing the evacuation of more than 550,000 people, state media reported, warning of further downpours, while the number of people confirmed killed in more than a week of floods and landslides triggered by the torrential rains had leapt past 100.

AFP - Getty Images

A man tries to salvage some belongings from his damaged home as flood water hit Laibin, southwest China's Guangxi province on June 16. China was pounded by more summer rain forcing the evacuation of more than 550,000 people, state media reported, warning of further downpours, while the number of people confirmed killed in more than a week of floods and landslides triggered by the torrential rains had leapt past 100.

From AP:
A flooded river in eastern China is at its highest level in more than 50 years, the government said Friday as thousands of passenger were stranded after landslides buried parts of a railway line in the southwest.

Flooding in China over the past two weeks has left more than 170 people dead or missing and led to thousands of people leaving their homes in regions along the Yangtze River. 

Rain-triggered landslides crushed parts of a railway line in southwestern China, stranding 5,000 passengers on four trains overnight and affecting train service, local railway authorities said Friday.

Over 2,000 rescuers with 10 excavators rushed to clear the Chengdu-Kunming railway, which links the provincial capitals of Sichuan and Yunnan, the Chengdu Railway Bureau said in a statement, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The bureau has sent food and water to the trapped passengers, and buses to evacuate them, the statement said.

In eastern Zhejiang, the province's main river is at its highest level since 1955, China's flood control agency said. The Qiantang River was 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) above safety levels, it said.

Elsewhere in the coastal province, a dike breached and flooded 18 villages while landslides toppled about 2,500 houses and flooded 350 roads, Xinhua said. This week's rains have also forced 120,000 residents in Zhejiang to leave their homes.

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