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Natural Disasters

China, Russia hit by severe floods

Floodwaters have been wreaking havoc in the northeast of China and eastern Russia. Dozens of people have been killed in China and hundreds of thousands of people in both countries have been displaced.

Chinese state media report that the death toll in the northeast of the country has risen to 37 since floods began on August 10.

Liaoning province reported 12 flood-related deaths after downpours on Friday and Saturday, 14 were killed in Jilin province, and officials in Heilongjiang province said 11 had died, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua reported that the flooding in the area was the worst in several decades, displacing some 140,000 people and destroying more than 2,500 houses. Railways and highways were cut off and bridges damaged.

Losses have been put at 7.13 billion yuan ($1.17 billion, 874 million euros).

Meanwhile, Southern China is recovering after being battered by Typhoon Utor last week. Xinhua said 10 people were dead and four others missing in the southern province of Guangdong and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Flood of the century

Across the border in Russia, flooding has also caused widespread devastation in the country's far east, though no casualties have been reported so far.

The floods have been declared a natural disaster in the worst-affected regions of Amur and Khabarovsk. Authorities say the floods are the worst in more than a century.

Tens of thousands of emergency services workers and civilians have been struggling to contain the waters of the Amur River on Russia's border with China. The minister of Regional development, Viktor Ishayev, said more than 17,000 people had been evacuated and that this figure could rise to as many as 100,000.

"The damage is extensive, but the most significant achievement is there have been no casualties ... we cannot relax, there is still a lot of work to be done," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address on Saturday.

The Interfax news agency reported that Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev had earmarked 3.2 billion rubles (73 million euros, $97 million) for the affected regions, though the bill for damage is expected to be much higher.

The flooding occurred after massive rains since the end of July caused the Amur River, and one of its tributaries, the Zeya, to burst their banks.

tj/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa)