BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s President Xi Jinping demanded government authorities at all levels give top priority to ensuring people’s safety and property as torrential rains cause devastating floods, deadly mudslides and geological disasters in the country.

Over the past few weeks, heavy downpours in southern, central and northern provinces and regions have displaced thousands, destroyed bridges and washed away cars and homes.

Xi’s comments, reported by state media on Wednesday, came after heavy rainfall hit several areas including southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, causing casualties and property losses.

Videos on social media showed raging rivers in towns and cities, and people being evacuated in waist-deep water.

Xi required the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and the ministries of emergency management and water resources to enhance coordination, strengthen consultation and research, and improve early warnings and forecasts, Xinhua reported.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Water Resources launched flood defence level IV emergency responses for Inner Mongolia region, and Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, according to CCTV.

Heavy rain is expected in those areas on Wednesday, according to a circular issued by the department, state media reported.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr and Ella Cao; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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