At least 15 people have died and five others are missing after severe storms, the most devastating in the past century, in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou, local authorities reported Sunday.

The torrential rains, which began last Wednesday, have particularly affected the cities of Guangzhou, Zhaoqing and Qingyuan, where they caused heavy flooding and left large urban areas filled with mud and caused a number of buildings to collapse, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing provincial emergency services.

Just between Friday night and Saturday afternoon, more than 140,000 people suffered property damage in Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton. In addition, 21,000 were evacuated from their homes and 1,143 houses were destroyed.

So far, authorities estimate that a total of 800,000 people have been affected, 60,000 have been evacuated and about 3,000 buildings of various kinds have been destroyed.

In addition, 16 provincial highways have had to be closed.

Provincial authorities have activated an emergency plan to send rescue teams to the affected areas at a time of year when torrential rains are a frequent occurrence in China. EFE