Guangdong raises flood alert to highest level after record rainfall

China manufacturing hub's move poses threat to economy already reeling from lockdowns

BEIJING • China's manufacturing hub of Guangdong raised its flood warning to the highest level due to the heaviest rainfall in decades, spurring more evacuations and threatening further supply chain disruptions in an economy reeling from lockdowns related to Covid-19.

Guangdong province raised its flood control emergency response to the highest level late on Tuesday, ordering areas at risk to take "necessary steps" to promptly halt school classes, businesses and traffic to minimise the impact of the torrential downpours and ensure the safety of lives and property, according to a notice from the local emergency management department.

Shaoguan, a major industrial production centre in the north of Guangdong that borders Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, told most companies to halt output and suspended public transport after a "severe flood disaster" in the past few days.

Average precipitation in the city exceeded previous records, according to the local government.

China Railway Guangzhou Group halted train services for lines passing through Shaoguan. Multiple districts in the adjacent Qingyuan city suspended classes yesterday as the rain pushed up water levels in reservoirs to dangerous levels.

Guangdong, along with the southern provinces of Fujian and Guangxi, has been hit by record rainfall over the past month, forcing millions of people to evacuate from low-lying areas in the Pearl River basin.

From May 1 to June 15, the average precipitation in the three areas reached 621mm, the highest in six decades, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Floods are not uncommon during the summer, especially in low-lying areas, but they are set to become more extreme and frequent as the planet warms. Images of the flooding have been startling.

One photo by Xinhua showed dozens of high-rise buildings surrounded by flood waters in Wuyuan county in Jiangxi province. Analysts have warned that the extreme weather, including floods in southern provinces and droughts in the north, will affect the production of grain and vegetables and pig-rearing and push up domestic inflation, according to local media.

Frequent heavy storms will continue in southern provinces over the next 10 days, flooding some farmland and hurting rice, corn and vegetable crops, China's National Meteorological Centre warned earlier on Monday.

Any threat to manufacturing, shipping and logistics operations could deal another blow to an economy which has yet to recover from widespread Covid-19 lockdowns in major cities. China's economy is now estimated to expand just 4.3 per cent this year, well below the government's target of around 5.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the National Meteorological Centre yesterday renewed a "blue alert" for rainstorms in various parts of the country.

Heavy downpours were expected from the early afternoon yesterday in parts of Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Sichuan, Chongqing and Yunnan, it said.

Some areas may experience up to 150mm of rainfall. Some of these regions are also likely to encounter over 60mm of hourly precipitation, accompanied by thunderstorms and gales.

China has a four-tier colour-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline Guangdong raises flood alert to highest level after record rainfall. Subscribe