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Floods cost China dear

BBC News, Monday 24 August 1998, published at 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK

China is facing financial catastrophe as flood waters continue to wreak havoc across industrial and agricultural regions.

Officials say losses could be as high as $25bn and knock 0.5% off China's projected economic growth.

The areas affected by the floods include some of the country's most fertile agricultural land and most important industrial regions.

It will take weeks for the water to subside and Chinese farmers, who have lost this year's harvest, are expecting knock-on problems well into next year.

One aid worker says: There has been destruction of property, power lines, water supplies. We are probably talking in terms of years rather than months.

The official line has changed as the floods have worsened, showing a greater acceptance of the scale of the disaster and acknowledging that deforestation may have played a part.

Officials have tried to rally the people, using television pictures of workers at the 'front-line' singing upbeat songs. There is also a price cap for essentials such as basic foods and building materials.

Flood facts