In China

Thousands forced to evacuate amid rising waters

Right: A flooded village in Zoige county, in the south-western province of Sichuan, on Friday. Far right: Firefighters rescuing a stranded woman, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Left: A landslide hit a township in Zhouqu cou
A flooded village in Zoige county, in the south-western province of Sichuan, on Friday.PHOTO: REUTERS
Right: A flooded village in Zoige county, in the south-western province of Sichuan, on Friday. Far right: Firefighters rescuing a stranded woman, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Left: A landslide hit a township in Zhouqu cou
Firefighters rescuing a stranded woman, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. PHOTO: REUTERS
Right: A flooded village in Zoige county, in the south-western province of Sichuan, on Friday. Far right: Firefighters rescuing a stranded woman, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Left: A landslide hit a township in Zhouqu cou
A landslide hit a township in Zhouqu county, in Gansu province, dumping 10,000 sq m of debris in a river. PHOTO: XINHUA
Right: A flooded village in Zoige county, in the south-western province of Sichuan, on Friday. Far right: Firefighters rescuing a stranded woman, following heavy rainfall in Chengdu, in Sichuan province. Left: A landslide hit a township in Zhouqu cou
A tourist running away from waves caused by Typhoon Maria in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHANGHAI • Heavy rain and thunderstorms are wreaking havoc across China, with floods along major rivers destroying bridges, blocking roads and railways, and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.

State television said yesterday that 241 rivers in 24 provinces had flooded in the last few days, causing direct economic losses of 25.9 billion yuan (S$5.3 billion).

Weather authorities forecast more downpours throughout the country yesterday, with floods and landslides expected in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Heavy rain and flooding hits much of China this time every year, often with hundreds killed, but the number of casualties this year has been relatively low, at least in the early summer, with one province reporting 15 dead and another three.

The National Meteorological Centre said rainfall could exceed 80mm per hour in some regions yesterday. It warned of floods in the north-east and called on the authorities to halt outdoor activities and watch out for collapsing structures.

The flood-prone Yangtze river, which runs from Yunnan in the south-west to Jiangsu and Shanghai on the east coast, has seen a massive increase in water volumes, causing flooding in many of its tributaries and bringing water volumes in the giant Three Gorges reservoir close to record levels.

Flood control and drought relief authorities said yesterday water levels in Sichuan Basin's Jialing river and Yangtze at one point exceeded the warning levels by 5.92m and 3.78m, respectively.

State news agency Xinhua reported on Friday that more than 10 highways in Sichuan province were inaccessible as a result of flooding, and a bridge across Sichuan's Min river, a Yangtze tributary, had collapsed. Floods in the province had caused damage to the tune of about 2.4 billion yuan by Thursday, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management, which had sent emergency relief teams to Sichuan and neighbouring Gansu province. The nearby city of Chongqing had evacuated nearly 100,000 residents to date.

Heavy rain has also caused the Yellow River, which runs through northern China, to burst its banks, blocking a section of a railway line in the north-west province of Shaanxi.

Gansu, also in the north-west, reported 15 people killed, four missing and more than one million affected by a week of heavy rain and flash floods, the official China News Service said yesterday.

The normally arid region of Inner Mongolia, which had suffered weeks of drought, also issued a flood warning on Friday.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 15, 2018, with the headline 'Thousands forced to evacuate amid rising waters'. Print Edition | Subscribe