Beijing- Heavy rains in China's southwest have killed at least 19 people and left 20 missing, with tens of thousands of people evacuated due to flooding, sources reported today.

The China News Service reported that 12 people had died in the city of Chongqing, three in neighboring Sichuan province and another four in Shaanxi province. Some 160,000 people had been evacuated from Shaanxi alone with another 85,000 from Sichuan.

The rains struck the region throughout Saturday, adding to downpours that hit Sichuan the previous five days.

Soldiers are involved in rescuing residents trapped in apartment buildings surrounded by high waters, including a woman and child holding on to ropes as they were lowered to a boat.

China's meteorological centre forecast heavy rain would continue in southwest and central China until Monday afternoon.