Heavy rains and flooding in southern China have killed around 32 people so far and impacted millions of others, and caused billions of yuan worth of economic losses. In recent weeks, heavy rainfall in the southern part of the country has triggered severe landslides and flooding, damaging roads, crops, and homes.
Severe flood seasons wreak havoc in China
China is grappling with increasingly devastating flood seasons which have been fueled by climate change. In Guangxi province, at least seven people were killed due to landslides. State news agency Xinhua reported that at least one person remains missing.
In Hunan province, at least ten people were killed this month, while three are missing. 286,000 people have been evacuated, and over 1.79 million residents were affected by the incessant rains, officials stated at a recent news conference.
Over 2,700 homes have suffered severe damage or collapsed, and 96,160 hectares of crops have been destroyed – this is a heavy loss for a province that is a major rice producer for China. Officials have estimated that direct economic losses as a result of the rains are more than 4 billion yuan or $600 million.
Last month, landslides and flooding killed at least five people in southwestern Yunnan province, eight people in coastal Fujian province, and two children in Guangxi province.
Authorities on alert for flood season
Summer floods are a common occurrence in China, especially in agricultural areas along the Yangtze River that are densely populated. This year, authorities have stated they are on high alert for the flood season, which began this month. Scientists, however, have been warning for several years that climate change would amplify severe weather events, making them more frequent and deadlier over time.
Last year, Henan, a region that does not normally experience heavy flooding, saw what some people called a “once in a thousand years” rainfall at some weather stations. The capital of Zhengzhou was also ill-prepared for extreme flooding. City officials did not pay attention to five consecutive red alerts for torrential rain, which eventually caused flood water to gush into tunnels, trapping hundreds of people in the city’s subway system and killing 12 of them.
The tragedy raised questions over just how prepared Chinese cities are for severe weather events. Ahead of the current flood season, Chinese weather officials warned of a high number of severe weather events. According to China’s National Climate Center, extreme torrential rains are likely to batter the southwestern and southern parts of the country.