At least 16 people have been killed by flooding and rainstorms in southwest China''s Sichuan Chinese province in recent days, the Sina news portal reported.

The number of fatalities is expected to grow, with 13 people currently missing.

The official Xinhua news agency said 550,000 people throughout southwest China have been forced to abandon their homes over the past four days. As well as destroying roads, the rains have flooded farmland and caused rivers to overflow.

In the Hunan province, at least 12 people have died and five are missing following powerful rainstorms, and 3,200 homes have been destroyed.