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BEIJING (AFP) – Heavy rain in southwest China has left at least nine dead and 62 missing, officials reported Thursday, after landslides crushed homes, bridges collapsed, and dozens of villages were cut off.

The storms which began Monday have affected some 1.45 million people in Sichuan, the provincial government said, giving the figures on its Sina Weibo microblog account.

Swathes of China have been hit by heavy rainfall in recent days, and mountainous areas in the southwest such as Sichuan are prone to landslides.

At least two people were confirmed dead and 21 were missing after a landslide on Wednesday engulfed homes in Zhongxing township, the state broadcaster CCTV reported Thursday.

Footage showed a wide rush of muddy water, though a reporter said the levels had fallen.

Another 12 people and six vehicles were still missing after a bridge in Jiangyou city collapsed into the rushing waters on Tuesday — one of three such incidents in the province.

Some 2,000 people trapped in a tunnel by another landslide were rescued on Wednesday, with television footage showing crowds walking down the middle of a road.

Emergency teams were working to clear landslide on a road to Beichuan county that had left 40 villages cut off.

Beichuan was the epicentre in 2008 of China’s deadliest earthquake in three decades — an 8.0-magnitude tremor that left more than 87,000 people dead.

Altogether about 110,000 Sichuan residents have been relocated because of the storms, the provincial government said on Weibo, adding that it was still collating the total damage.

Officials in Zhongxing and the provincial capital Chengdu declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

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