Heavy rains in China claim 128 lives

The Liujiang River in south China's Guangxi region is swollen after massive rainfall yesterday.
The Liujiang River in south China's Guangxi region is swollen after massive rainfall yesterday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Worst is not over, with south-eastern coast bracing itself for a typhoon this week

BEIJING • Heavy rains have left 128 people dead and 42 others missing in 11 Chinese provinces over the last six days, with more damage feared from a typhoon that is expected to hit the country's south- eastern coast this week.

Continuous rainfall since last Thursday has destroyed 41,000 houses and forced the evacuation of more than 1.34 million people in the 11 regions, mostly along the Yangtze River and its distributaries, including Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Hubei and Jiangsu, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs yesterday.

Water levels in Taihu Lake, close to Shanghai, are at their highest since 1954, the Beijing News reported, adding the area faces a "serious" risk of flooding if China's first typhoon this year, Nepartak, hits nearby on Friday.

Pictures of a farmer in eastern China breaking down in tears as waters mounted around his 3,000 pigs were posted by state media. Another image showed a sports stadium in Hubei turned into a "giant bathtub" by the rainfall.

Flooding is common during the summer monsoon season in southern China, but rainfall has been particularly heavy this year and many areas have been lashed by torrential rains this week.

China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang warned last month that a strong El Nino effect this year would increase the risk of floods in the Yangtze and Huai river basins.

Concerns of environmental damage were raised when state media Xinhua reported about 3 tonnes of petrol and diesel had leaked from a petrol station on Monday, contaminating floodwater that flowed into a river.

Rain is expected to move north this week towards the Huai River.

China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang warned last month that a strong El Nino effect this year would increase the risk of floods in the Yangtze and Huai river basins.

An El Nino effect was linked to China's worst floods in recent years when more than 4,000 people died in 1998, mostly around the Yangtze.

The Beijing News quoted a me- teorologist as saying that rain patterns this year are more disparate than in 1998, diminishing the risk of a similar toll.

China's national observatory issued an orange alert for storms across the country's south and east last week - the second-highest warning in a four-tier system.

The severe flooding has damaged more than 1.9 million hectares of crops and led to direct economic losses of more than 38 billion yuan (S$8 billion).

In the eastern province of Jiangsu, whole villages were levelled and at least 98 people died last month after the region was hit by a storm with hurricane-force winds and the worst tornado in half a century.

Yesterday, Premier Li Keqiang travelled to Anhui, one of the hardest-hit provinces, where he met residents and told officials to do everything they could to protect lives and livelihoods.

Floods have also hit South Asia this week, with 33 killed in Pakistan and 25 left dead in India after unusually heavy rains.

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Heavy rains in China claim 128 lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe