One missing, more than 600,000 affected by flooding in central China

CHANGSHA, Jun 27, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- One person has been swept away by flood waters and 633,900 people have been affected by heavy rains and floods in central China's Hunan Province since Sunday.

Yin Zhen, deputy head of a hydro power plant in Hongjiang, disappeared on Sunday morning when he tried to evacuate the plant. Only hours earlier Yin ordered two employees to leave the plant, but he decided to stay, according to the Hunan flood control headquarters on Wednesday.

The rains and floods destroyed 2,540 houses and 3,440 hectares of crops, closed 72 highways and damaged three small reservoirs, the headquarters said. Losses stood at 272 million yuan (35.7 million U.S. dollars).

Heavy rains will continue for at least another three days in Hunan, the Central Meteorological Station forecast on Wednesday.

Rainstorms have hit Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces and Shanghai since the weekend, affecting about 167,500 hectares of crops, destroying 19,200 hectares, said the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Tuesday.

Thirty-seven people, including 32 in Jiangxi and five in Zhejiang, were killed by lightning strikes while 11 others were killed by floods and collapsed buildings.

More than 8,100 houses were destroyed and 34,000 damaged. About 73,000 people were evacuated from their homes.

The disasters have caused losses of more than 1.06 billion yuan in these areas.