Chinese media say flood death toll hits 171

Soldiers scrambled to shore up soggy levies with sandbags Tuesday in southern China as forecasters warned that more heavy rain in the central region could trigger flooding on the country's second-longest river. The death toll rose to 171, state-run media said. The high waters swamped crop land in the south, forcing farmers to wade into their fields and harvest unripe cucumbers, bitter melons and other vegetables before they spoiled in the water. The natural disaster was driving up food prices that were already soaring before the heavy rains began last month. In hard-hit Guangdong province, officials reinforced embankments in nine cities, including the provincial capital, Guangzhou, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Local television showed soldiers in green camouflage uniforms lugging big sandbags on their backs as they hurried to build up levies in Guangdong, one of the nation's biggest manufacturing bases.