BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The rainstorms that have pounded southern China since early May had left 86 people dead and 16 missing by Wednesday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
About 7.9 million people have been affected by the rainstorms and direct economic losses total close to 5.9 billion yuan (about 864 million U.S. dollars), the ministry said in a notice.
The rainstorms also damaged 399,000 hectares of crops, in addition to 137,000 houses.
More than 275,000 people in Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Chongqing Municipality have been relocated.
Violent rainstorms with hail and gales began to hit southern China on May 5, leading to record high precipitation in many areas, including the southern economic hub of Guangzhou. Flooding, landslides, and mud-and-rock flows ensued.
The Civil Affairs Ministry said it has initiated a level-four emergency response in Chongqing, Hunan and Guangdong, which have been hit the hardest. The ministry has allocated special funds for relief work in the affected areas and dispatched work teams to direct the relief work.
In another notice issued by the ministry, it demanded local authorities make people's safety the top priority. Relief personnel, funds and supplies should reach affected areas within 24 hours, the notice said.
The notice also urged to provide food, clothes, clean drinking water, shelter, medical treatment for the sick.