BEIJING -- A landslide slammed into a mountain town in southwest China early Tuesday, killing three people and leaving at least 50 missing, while crews drained an engorged reservoir in another part of the country following heavy rains.

Rescuers tried to locate the 56 missing people after a rain-soaked mountainside collapsed around 4 a.m. sweeping through Xiaohe town in Yunnan province, state-run media reported. Aside from the dead and missing, another 38 people were injured, the reports said.

Meanwhile, waters in a reservoir near the far western city of Golmud began to subside Tuesday after hundreds of workers and soldiers finished digging a diversion channel, an official at the Qinghai province water bureau said. He refused to be named as is common with Chinese officials.

The reservoir at one point swelled to almost four feet (more than a meter) above its warning level, the Golmud city government's website said. Over the weekend, about 10,000 residents were evacuated to safety as soldiers transported sandbags, rocks and dirt and used bulldozers to dig the emergency waterway, the website said.

Still, parts of Golmud — a transport and mining hub on the edge of the Tibetan plateau — were already under six feet (two meters) of water, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Usually prone to drought, Qinghai has seen increasingly heavier rainfalls in recent years. This year's rains fell as the snow melted in the surrounding mountains. Dozens of reservoirs swelled beyond their warning levels, said the official from the water bureau.

Heavy rain is expected to sweep through the Yangtze River basin — including Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces — through Wednesday, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Parts of China experience annual flooding. In the first ten days of July, torrential rains have caused more than 50 deaths and economic losses of 8.9 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

More than 450 people in nine central and southern provinces have died since heavy rains began in June. (AP)