Fatal floods hit southern China after prolonged drought

Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in central and southern China after continuous downpours caused heavy flooding

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At least 14 people have been killed in raging flood waters that have swept through south-western Guizhou province.

Scores of people are missing, and tens of thousands have left their homes ahead of more flooding.

Roads, bridges and hundreds of homes and cars have been destroyed in the onslaught.

The floods toll, reported by the state news agency Xinhua, comes after months of crop-destroying drought in the centre and north of the country.

The provincial civil affairs office in Guizhou said that floods have hit 11 cities and counties since 3 June.

At least 270,000 people have been affected, 45,000 evacuated and 3,000 stranded, said Xinhua.

Before the deluge

Some areas along the Yangtze River have suffered their worst drought in half a century.

Even with the rain - and more is forecast in the coming days - officials have warned that the crop shortages and dislocation caused by drought will remain severe.

Large swathes of China have had almost no rain since October, affecting millions of hectares of crops and leaving many short of drinking water.

Analysts say crop shortages in China could affect prices around the world.

The country's central bank is offering emergency loans for drought-relief projects in northern, central and eastern areas.

Officials are trying to calm fears over shortages, saying the country has enough in reserve to meet demand.

But food prices have been rising quickly in China for months.

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