People Stranded on Rooftops by Rain, Flooding in China

BEIJING (AP) -- Authorities deployed helicopters in western China on Tuesday to rescue people stranded by flooding as heavy rain swelled the Yangtze and other rivers to dangerous levels, state media reported.

Landslides backed up a river, trapping 48 people on rooftops in Longnan city in the southern part of Gansu province, according to The Paper, an online news portal.

Neighboring Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality both declared the highest-level flood control emergency, a first for Sichuan.

In Sichuan, water lapped at the toes of the Leshan Giant Buddha — a towering 8th-century statue carved into a mountainside — for the first time since at least 1949, a government scenic management committee said.

Downriver in Hubei province, officials at the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission warned that the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project, would see the largest inflow of water in its 14-year history.

Elsewhere, approaching Typhoon Higos was expected to make landfall Wednesday on China's southern coast. Ferry service was suspended starting Tuesday evening between Zhanjiang city in Guangdong province and Hainan island, a city announcement said.

Flooding has left more than 200 people dead or missing in China this year and caused $25 billion in damage.