HEFEI/CHANGSHA, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Persistent rainstorms have caused severe floods on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, China's longest river, and its tributaries, causing casualties, inundating cities and villages and forcing more than 1 million people to relocate.
As of Tuesday night, storms had left 128 people dead and 42 others unaccounted for, according to figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Flood fighters are battling against torrents and engaging in round the clock rescue work.
A PHOTO OF FEET
A photo of an armed police officer's feet went viral on China's social media. The pair of pale, sodden feet with the soles wrinkled were regarded as "beautiful" by Chinese netizens.
In the photo, Jiao Lei was sitting against a wall, frowning. He still wore a wet life jacket and his trousers were stained with mud. He was battling against a leaking dike in Pingshan Township, Huaining County in east China's Anhui Province.
When the photo was taken, Jiao and his comrades had been carrying sandbags through waist-deep water all day, said Zhang Guangzhou, a police officer at the site who took the photo and sent it to a military doctor.
"I asked him to see if he wanted to go to hospital," Zhang said.
Impressed by Jiao's flood-fighting efforts, Zhang shared the photo on WeChat, a popular instant messaging tool in China, and it aroused wide attention across the country.
Jiao was allowed to rest on Monday, which made him worried. "I want to go back to join my comrades soon," he said.
Zhang said Jiao was not the only soldier whose feet were soaked in the floods all day long.
FLOATING 10 KM
Central China's Hunan has been one of the worst hit. Floods hit Xupu County in the city of Huaihua on Monday, trapping people in their fragile homes. The county seat was inundated with the water to a depth of over three meters in some areas.
Two officers who were relocating five villagers on a steam boat were washed away by floods when their boat capsized.
Lu Tao, one of the officers, pushed two villagers onto the bank, but he himself was swept away after he was hit by a chunk of floating wood.
A child and six adults were saved. Lu and Yang Yanqiu, another officer, and two women were unaccounted for.
People on a bridge downstream attempted to pull Yang out using a rope but failed because he was too exhausted to struggle against the torrent.
Luckily, Yang was rescued after floating another kilometer, while Lu was rescued after floating more than 10 km for nearly an hour.
The body of a missing woman was found on Tuesday morning. The search for another missing woman is still under way.
"As the floods hit our county, people and soldiers helped each other. We are like a family," said Meng Han, Xupu County Party secretary.
A TEMPORARY DAD FOR LEFT-BEHIND TODDLER
On Tuesday, a dike near Liancheng Village, Zongyang County in Anhui started leaking. The floods covered a highway to a depth of 1.5 meters. Firefighters were dispatched to relocate the villagers.
Firefighter Zhu Hao heard that a toddler had a fever and when he arrived on the scene found an old woman holding the child in her arms trapped in their waterlogged home. He asked his comrades to take care of the woman and took the child on a steam boat to see a doctor.
As the child's parents were away, they had no one to ask help for. Zhu decided to be the "temporary dad" for the toddler. He took him to see doctor and then to have blood tests in hospital.
After the treatment, Zhu took the child back to home, walking for an hour along a mountain road.
Such rescue efforts are continuing in the flooded areas.