Source AP ©

Floods kill 3, leave 158,000 homeless in central China

Heavy rains have killed at least three people, forced 158,000 people from their homes, damaged thousands of buildings and flooded farmland in central China, state media reported Friday.

Xinhua News Agency said the Ministry of Civil Affairs sent an emergency rescue group to the disaster-hit area in southern Hunan province following the rains that started Wednesday night and continued through Thursday.

About 75,000 people do not have access to clean drinking water, Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying.

More than 57,000 hectares (140,000 acres) of farmland were affected with direct economic losses expected to hit 580 million yuan (US$75 million; euro56 million).

Xinhua said more rainfall was forecast for the province.

Natural disasters are common in China, with flooding and droughts regularly happening in different parts of the country at the same time.