World

Thousands flee as Chinese villages flooded

Several villages in southern China have been flooded after heavy rains overcame the banks of a nearby river early Thursday, a government news agency reported.

Several villages in southern China have been flooded after heavy rains overcame the banks of a nearby river early Thursday, a government news agency reported.

In just two hours, nearly 80 centimetres of rain fell in Fujian province's Changting county, where approximately 3,500 families slept.

Emergency rescue crews havemoved outmore than 16,000 people and have begun reinforcing the river banks with sand bags.

The news agency saidthere are no estimates on the number of casualties.

Since late May, at least 55 people have died in eastern Chinain flooding and landslides resulting fromheavy rains.

Overall, at least 378,000 people have been evacuated from Fujian, Guangdong and Guizhou provinces due to the flooding, the government's Ministry of Civil Affairs reported.

While China is prone to monsoon rains each year, the season's storms have arrived early.