Non-stop rains pour more misery on China

Images of a flooded street in Beijing (above) and a flooded entrance to a subway station in Tianjin (above left), both taken on Wednesday, give an indication of the severity of the heavy rains and flooding that have hit northern China since Monday.
Images of a flooded street in Beijing (above) and a flooded entrance to a subway station in Tianjin both taken on Wednesday, give an indication of the severity of the heavy rains and flooding that have hit northern China since Monday.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Images of a flooded street in Beijing (above) and a flooded entrance to a subway station in Tianjin (above left), both taken on Wednesday, give an indication of the severity of the heavy rains and flooding that have hit northern China since Monday.
Images of a flooded street in Beijing and a flooded entrance to a subway station in Tianjin (above), both taken on Wednesday, give an indication of the severity of the heavy rains and flooding that have hit northern China since Monday.PHOTOS: REUTERS

Rail, road, air traffic to and from Beijing disrupted; capital issues orange alert

BEIJING • Torrential rain lashing northern China in recent days has left nearly 100 people dead or missing, official figures showed.

At least 24 people in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Henan and Shaanxi, have been confirmed dead in a rainstorm that has been pounding the region since Monday, according to figures from the Civil Affairs Ministry.

Hebei was the worst hit, with 14 dead and 72 missing, it said in a statement late on Wednesday. Around 123,000 people were evacuated in 11 cities across Hebei province and over 7,000 houses were destroyed, it said, adding that traffic, power and communications were also disrupted.

Northern China is normally arid, but flooding is not uncommon during the summer monsoon season.

Beginning on Tuesday, downpours in Shanxi, Hebei and Hubei provinces hit a record high for precipitation before torrential rains spread to much of northern China on Wednesday.

Rail, road and air traffic to and from Beijing were disrupted on Wednesday when the Chinese capital was hit by heavy rainfall rarely seen in years. An orange alert, the second-highest in a four-tier system, was issued for heavy rain in Beijing on Wednesday.

NORTHERN RISK

The northern regions, which previously did not have large rainfall, will face a high risk of geological disasters as the mountains' soil is loose.

MR WANG GUANGHUA, Chinese Vice-Minister for Land and Resources.

"The northern regions, which previously did not have large rainfall, will face a high risk of geological disasters as the mountains' soil is loose," said Land and Resources Vice-Minister Wang Guanghua.

Heavy downpours this year have already wreaked havoc in the southern parts of China, killing more than 200 people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for the nation to be fully prepared for the huge floods that are expected along some of the country's major rivers.

Recent flooding has also exposed the lack of effective drainage in cities and reckless development that filled in lakes, which offer natural drainage during heavy downpours.

The Sixth Tone news website reported that more than 100 officials have been punished for inadequate flood emergency actions.

With heavy floods in the Yangtze River, which is home to China's major rice, pig and fish- farming areas, analysts have warned that prices may rise.

This year's floods will shave as much as 0.2 percentage point from this quarter's expansion, according to almost half of economists in a Bloomberg survey.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'Non-stop rains pour more misery on China'. Print Edition | Subscribe