SPECIAL REPORT

Rain heaps misery on Asia

Torrential rains have battered several countries in Asia, including China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, resulting in dozens of lives lost, leaving thousands of people in misery and causing heavy economic losses.

CHINA

Torrential rains have battered several provinces in China, affecting more than a million people and causing heavy economic losses .

Provinces in southern and eastern China, including Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Jiangxi and Hunan, have been badly affected.

In Hunan, days of heavy rain have affected about 500,000 residents in 25 counties, with about 18,000 evacuated and 4,000 in need of emergency supplies, according to the provincial flood and drought relief headquarters.

The heavy storms have also damaged 46,000ha of crops, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, two people have died and 290,000 people in 16 counties have been affected by the heavy rain.

About 17,460ha of farmland were inundated by floodwaters, and more than 600 homes were affected, causing a direct economic loss of 470 million yuan (S$99 million).

A city in Guangdong province received the heaviest rainfall in more than 200 years. Xinyi city, in Maoming prefecture, saw 429.5mm of rain in just six hours, according to the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.

Eight people died and four others were reported missing in the city.

Flood control authorities in China had earlier warned that the country will likely face massive floods due to the worst El Nino weather phenomenon since the 1997/1998 weather pattern that wreaked havoc in the Asia-Pacific region.

Vice-minister of water resources Liu Ning, who is also secretary-general of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said in March that it was highly likely the Yangtze area will see major flooding this year as a result of the strongest El Nino in history, the China Daily reported.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lankans who are camped out in shelters in the capital face an uncertain future after massive flooding from torrential rains struck the island nation last week.

At least 92 people have died from the floods and landslides after Cyclone Roanu brought the heaviest rains the island has seen in 25 years, the BBC reported yesterday .

Water levels in the capital Colombo are slowly receding after the Kelani river, which runs through the city of 650,000, burst its banks early last week. A massive cleanup is currently under way.

However, many of the estimated 100,000 residents still sheltering in schools and other relief centres in Colombo say they have lost everything, and are unsure how to rebuild, Agence France-Presse reported.

Meanwhile, most people outside Colombo have already returned home. "We have no shortage of food, but the issue is, how do we go back home?" said single mother Dinesha Devi.

She has spent five days camped out in a classroom at the Vidyawardena school, on the city's outskirts. "We have lost everything we had. I don't even have any change of clothes for Nilakshan, let alone myself," she said, referring to her 21-month-old toddler.

The authorities expect the death toll to rise as more people are reported missing.

BANGLADESH

Cyclone Roanu also left a trail of despair and destruction in Bangladesh, with thousands returning yesterday to homes damaged by massive flooding.

The authorities evacuated more than two million people and put them in shelters before the cyclone, with winds of up to 88km an hour, ploughed through the impoverished southern coastal region on Saturday, killing at least 26 people.

Among the worst-hit areas were the low-lying villages in the Chittagong and Barisal regions, Associated Press reported.

Thousands of people, however, had stayed put after concluding that the storm would not pose much of a threat to the cyclone-prone nation.

Yesterday, about 100,000 residents in Moheshkhali island in Chittagong returned to their homes to find them damaged and flooded. Many who lost their stored food supplies were now searching for food, the island's council chief Mohammed Ullah told the Associated Press.

Bangladesh is regularly battered by cyclones, which form in the Bay of Bengal. Over 4,000 lives were lost when Cyclone Sidr hit in 2007, Agence France-Presse reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Rain heaps misery on Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe