Flooding in western China, the worst in 50 years for some areas, has left seven people dead and 48 missing, with more than half a million others forced to evacuate or otherwise affected, the government reported Thursday.
The early arrival of China's rainy season has caused havoc across not only the west, but also parts of the country's north, with a total of 1.6 million people affected since Sunday and thousands of homes damaged, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. An unknown number have been killed nationwide.
The casualties in the west included two people confirmed dead and 21 missing in a massive landslide outside the city of Dujiangyan in Sichuan province.
Mudslides and flooding are common in China's mountainous areas, killing hundreds of people every year, but in some areas the current floods are already the worst in half a century.
Also in the west, more than 2,000 people were rescued after being trapped for several hours Wednesday in a highway tunnel between Dujiangyan and Wenchuan — the epicenter of the Sichuan earthquake five years ago that left 90,000 people dead or missing.
Bridges have been closed and train service suspended in some parts of the province.
In nearby Beichuan county, flooding destroyed buildings and wrecked exhibits at a memorial for the 2008 earthquake.
The flooding also caused the collapse of an almost 50-year-old bridge in a neighboring county, sending six vehicles into the raging waters and leaving 12 people missing.
In the northern province of Shanxi, meanwhile, at least 12 workers were killed Tuesday when a violent rainstorm caused the collapse of an unfinished coal mine workshop they were building.
Another three people were drowned in a car in Hebei province outside the capital, while an additional 11 people were reported dead or missing in Yunnan province, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, and Gansu province.