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Southern China: Massive floods threaten tens of millions as intense rains batter country

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Village roads and farmlands are submerged by water after heavy rain in Qingyuan city, Guangdong province, China, 20 April 2024.

Hong Kong

Several days of heavy rains have lashed southern China, triggering deadly floods and threatening to upend the lives of tens of millions of people as rescuers race to evacuate residents trapped by rising waters.

Guangdong province, an economic powerhouse home to 127 million people, experienced widespread flooding that forced more than 110,000 people to be relocated, state media reported, citing the local government.

Floods have killed at least four people in Guangdong, including a rescue worker, the official Xinhua news agency reported Monday. At least 10 people are still missing, the statement added.

Since April 16, sustained torrential rains have battered the Pearl River Delta, China’s manufacturing heartland and one of the country’s most populated regions, with four weather stations in Guangdong recording record rainfall for the month of April.

The Pearl River basin is subject to annual flooding from April to September, but the region has faced more intense torrential rains and severe flooding in recent years, with scientists warning that the climate crisis will amplify the extreme weather events, making them deadlier and more frequent.

VCG/Visual China Group/Getty Images

Waterlogged fields after torrential rain on April 20, 2024 in Qingyuan, Guangdong province.

“Judging from the flood control situation in recent years, global warming and rising temperatures have intensified, and extremely heavy rains occur every year, leading to torrential rains and flooding,” Yin said Zhijie, chief hydrological forecaster at the Ministry of Water Resources. -run The Paper output.

Last year, China experienced “more intense and extreme” downpours during the flood season than in previous years, with 72 national weather stations recording record daily rainfall and 346 stations breaking monthly records, according to the Meteorological Administration Chinese.

Since last week, at least 44 rivers in the Pearl River basin have exceeded the alert limit, threatening to burst their banks, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

On the Bei River, which flows into the Pearl River, authorities have warned of a “once in a century” flood expected to reach 5.8 meters (19 feet) above the warning limit. The tributary had already overflowed on April 8, marking the earliest arrival of its annual flood season since records began in 1998, according to Guangdong authorities.

The Bei River “massive flood” is the first on record to hit China in the highest category of a four-tier classification system, according to Yin, the forecaster. Floods of this magnitude usually occur after the end of June, he explained.

Aerial footage broadcast by CCTV at the weekend showed villages flooded by murky waters, with only roofs and treetops visible in some places.

In Guangning County, Zhaoqing City, footage shared by residents on the short video app Douyin showed brown, muddy water gushing down village streets and washing away cars. In Shaoguan, a man is seen pushing his scooter through shoulder-deep floodwaters. And in the city of Qingyuan, images posted on social media showed strong gusts of wind and heavy rain felling trees and overturning motorcycles.

The heavy downpours also caused landslides near the town of Shaoguan in the mountainous north of the province, injuring six people, according to Xinhua.

Authorities on Sunday raised the emergency flood response in the Pearl River Delta to Level 2 – the second highest level of a four-tier system.

Many cities have suspended schools and hundreds of flights have been canceled in the metropolises of Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

More than 80 houses collapsed or were seriously damaged, causing a direct economic loss of nearly 140 million yuan ($20 million), Xinhua reported.

Further heavy rains are expected to hit Guangdong this week, according to the provincial Meteorological Bureau.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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Gn world

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