Xi calls for all-out flood rescue effort as storms pound southern China

BEIJING (Reuters) -The task of controlling floods in China is becoming increasingly arduous, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, calling for all-out efforts to safeguard lives and property as powerful storms pounded provinces from the interior to the eastern coast.

About a dozen people have been reported killed in floods or rain-induced mudslides in recent days with the annual flooding season in southern Chinese provinces in full swing.

In the city of Meizhou in Guangdong province, low-rise buildings tilted perilously on subsiding ground next to raging rivers, or lay half-submerged as flood-waters burst the banks, video on social media showed.

In Guangdong province, at least five people have been killed and 13 trapped due to flash floods and mudslides, according to state media, with over 1,400 houses having collapsed and 8,000 hectares of crops damaged.

Xinhua said Xi had called for all-out efforts to fight floods in the south, urging every possible attempt to rescue those lost and trapped.

Deaths during China's annual summer floods have fallen sharply from the thousands each year in the 1990s, as authorities beefed up flood control measures, such as dam construction.

Yet extreme weather in recent years, including record-breaking rainfall, has made China vulnerable to intense flooding and disasters such as sudden mudslides, often in its mountainous but populated areas.

In Shanghang, a county in southeastern Fujian province, four people were killed after rainfall in 15 townships broke records over a 24-hour period, Xinhua reported.

Communication and power infrastructure in disaster-stricken areas in Shanghang have not fully recovered, with the region facing the risk of more landslides.

In the far western region of Xinjiang, flash floods engulfed a car on Tuesday, and four people remained missing, state media said.

In the mountainous area of Changji in Xinjiang's northwest, emergency officials said heavy rainfall had brought flash floods and mudslides that blocked roads in one town.

Also on Tuesday, officials in the southwestern region of Guangxi upgraded a flood warning advisory, adding that about 23,600 people were affected in 10 counties.

Flash flood warnings were also issued in the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi, state media said.

Weather forecasters expect more heavy rain in Guangxi, and the provinces of Jiangxi, Fujian, Zhejiang and Anhui.

The waters in many rivers have exceeded warning levels, official media said.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroomEditing by Miral Fahmy, Clarence Fernandez, Peter Graff)