BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-three people have died and 12 others were reported missing in the latest round of rain- and hailstorms that have swept south China, the country's civil affairs and disaster reduction authorities said Thursday.
Since Tuesday, rainstorms have triggered flooding and landslides in some places, according to sources with the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Committee for Disaster Reduction.
The ministry and committee both initiated a level-IV disaster relief response and sent work teams to worst-hit Guangdong Province on Thursday night.
On Thursday, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also dispatched two work teams to Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces to direct flood control efforts.
In Guangdong, rainstorms battered 173 townships in five cities, including the provincial capital Guangzhou, on Wednesday and Thursday, triggering heavy flooding in some areas, the Guangdong Provincial Flood Prevention and Drought Relief Headquarters said.
The water levels of some rivers in Guangdong have surpassed warning lines, and an offshoot of the Beijiang River saw the worst flooding in a century, according to the headquarters.
A total of 650,000 people in the province have been affected by the heavy rains and 2,675 houses have been destroyed.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, 19 meteorological stations in Guangdong had reported precipitation measuring over 250 mm. Qujiang District, Shaoguan City, saw the highest precipitation, at 339.8 mm.
"The heavy rainfall in a short time and prolonged precipitation in some areas can easily trigger flooding and landslides," said Zhang Dong, a chief forecaster with the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Station.
The rainstorms are expected to continue until Friday morning in Guangdong, then weaken before heavy rainfall returns to many parts of the province on Saturday, according to the station.