Constant heavy rain beginning August 31 has caused widespread destruction in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, as well as the mega-city of Chongqing, where all but one of the deaths occurred and all of the missing were reported.
The ministry said 121,700 people had been moved to temporary shelters and put the number of collapsed or heavily damaged houses at 42,000. It estimated total damage at more than 3.3 billion yuan ($534 million).
Southwestern China's mountainous terrain increases the chances of landslides brought on by the loosening of rain-saturated hillsides.
Seasonal rains cause major flooding around China almost every year. The worst in recent history was in 1998, when 4,150 people died, most of them along the Yangtze River, China's mightiest.
The massive Three Gorges Dam has largely contained Yangtze flooding, but the problem persists in other parts of the country apart from the arid northwest.
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