FLOODS spawned by torrential rain in China’s southern and eastern regions have left at least 186 people dead and another 45 missing, the nation’s flood headquarters said yesterday.
The extreme weather has also displaced 1.48 million people and caused 50.6 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion) in direct economic losses in 26 provincial areas, it said.
Storms have been hitting most of southern China since Thursday, pushing water levels in rivers to dangerous levels and swelling many reservoirs.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said the situation remained grave, with two more rounds of rainstorms forecast to hit southern regions over the next 10 days. Nepartak, the first typhoon of the year, is expected to bring gales and downpours to eastern coastal areas this week.
The country’s weather authority suggested people in southern areas reduce outdoor activities on rainy days and take precautions against possible floods and landslides.
Some 9,000 houses collapsed and 710,000 hectares of crops have been damaged in seven southern provinces. Combined losses have been estimated at around 9.1 billion yuan.
China’s meteorological authority yesterday renewed its orange alert, the second most serious, for heavy rain across much of the south today.
Thunderstorms will continue to affect the provinces of Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region this morning, with precipitation reaching up to 220 millimeters in some areas, the National Meteorological Center said on its website.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday’s landslide in southwest China’s Guizhou Province was put at 23 yesterday, with seven others injured, after everyone had been accounted for.
Intense rain triggered the landslide around 5:30am in Dafang County’s Pianpo Village, according to the local rescue headquarters.
Thirty people had been buried in the debris and more than 800 soldiers and rescuers had worked with excavators to search for the missing villagers.
The heaviest rain this year battered Hubei Province on Saturday, leaving at least 22 people missing or dead. Water levels of the Jushui River, a major Yangtze tributary, had risen by more than eight meters in a day, inundating at least 23 villages. Thousands of soldiers, firefighters and relief workers are working around the clock to repair the breaches.
On the same day, soldiers in Hubei’s Macheng City used a ton of explosives to open a sluice channel for the Xianggudun reservoir. It is near several key railway and highway lines and a dam breach could have put the lives of around 70,000 people in danger.
The Yangtze has seen 16 rounds of heavy rainfall since the middle of March and levels of 43 rivers along its course have surpassed the safe limit.
The water level on the Dongting Lake is about a meter higher than in previous years, while the level of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater body, is 2 meters higher than the level in previous years.