Heavy rain, floods force China to evacuate nearly 80,000

Rescue workers evacuating a woman following heavy rainfall in Pingxiang, Jiangxi province. The authorities in Jiangxi have triggered emergency responses and designated 17 million yuan (S$3.4 million) for flood prevention and rescue work. PHOTO: REUTE
Rescue workers evacuating a woman following heavy rainfall in Pingxiang, Jiangxi province. The authorities in Jiangxi have triggered emergency responses and designated 17 million yuan (S$3.4 million) for flood prevention and rescue work. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • The heaviest average rainfall to lash a swathe of southern and eastern China in more than half a century has brought torrential rain and floods - destroying houses, damaging crops and forcing the evacuation of nearly 80,000 people, state media said.

Even more rain is expected, state television said yesterday.

Average rainfall in affected areas this week was recorded as 51 per cent higher than in the corresponding periods of previous years, and the highest level since 1961.

State TV showed images of half-submerged buildings and flooded streets in some of the worst-affected areas.

Also, trains along the Beijing-Guangzhou railway were delayed after rising waters blocked a bridge in Hunan, it added.

The past week's heavy rain caused losses of 2.69 billion yuan (S$531 million), with 126,100ha of farmland damaged and 1,600 homes collapsed, according to estimates by the Ministry of Emergency Management.

It said that as many as 77,000 people have been evacuated.

The affected areas include the southern provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi, eastern Zhejiang, the south-eastern province of Fujian and the northern parts of the south-western Guangxi region.

The first three areas are expected to be doused again in another burst of torrential rain today and tomorrow, weather officials said, along with the central province of Hubei, eastern Anhui and the province of Guizhou in the south-west.

The Yangtze River in Jiangxi is expected to exceed its warning level for the first time this year around Sunday, swelled by heavy rain that could last until Tuesday next week, state TV added.

The authorities in Jiangxi yesterday said that, since last Saturday, 29 rivers in the province have seen water levels surpass flood warning marks as a result of heavy rain.

The province has triggered emergency responses and designated 17 million yuan for flood prevention and rescue work.

Since last month, 22 people in Jiangxi have been killed and more than seven million people affected.

China is forced to evacuate hundreds of thousands of residents of flood-prone regions every summer.

Extreme weather is becoming increasingly frequent, with temperatures in some parts of the country hitting records this year.

Weather officials warned on Wednesday last week that rainfall in the south could surpass the average by 30 per cent to 70 per cent over a 10-day stretch.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2019, with the headline 'Heavy rain, floods force China to evacuate nearly 80,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe