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Floods in China Feared Due To Torrential Rains, Rising Rivers in Key Provinces

Over 1.16 million households lost power due to the heavy rains in Guangdong, and about 1,103 schools in Zhaoqing, Shaoguan and Qingyuan will suspend classes on Monday.
China floods
A screen grab from a China News Service video shows people navigating a flooded road in Guangdong, China in September 2023.

BEIJING: Torrential rains and rising rivers are threatening major floods in China, forcing the government on Sunday to launch emergency response plans.

Local weather officials said sections of rivers and tributaries at the Xijiang and Beijiang river basins are hitting levels that have only a one-in-50 chance of happening in any given year. China’s water resource ministry issued an emergency advisory to protect an estimated 127 million people, state broadcaster CCTV news said on Sunday.

Guangdong officials urged departments in all localities and municipalities to begin emergency planning to avert natural disasters. It also ordered the dispersal of disaster relief funds and materials to ensure affected people have food, clothing, water and shelter.

The province, a major exporter and one of China’s main commercial and trading centres, has seen major downpours and strong winds for several days. This weather pattern has also affected other parts of China.

A 12-hour spell of heavy rain, starting from 8 p.m. (1200 GMT) Saturday, battered the central and northern parts of the province including the cities of Zhaoqing, Shaoguan, Qingyuan and Jiangmen where rescue workers have been dispatched.

More than 45,000 people have been evacuated in Qingyuan, according to state media, and some power facilities in Zhaoqing were damaged. In Guangdong, 1.16 million households lost power due to the heavy rains. About 1,103 schools in Zhaoqing, Shaoguan and Qingyuan will suspend classes on Monday, local media said.

“Please look at Zhaoqing’s Huaiji county, which has become a water town. The elderly and children at the countryside don’t know what to do with power outages and no signal,” said one user on the popular social media site Weibo.

Raging flood waters swept one vehicle down a narrow street in Zhaoqing, a video released by Hongxing News showed. “It rained like a waterfall for an hour and a half on the highway driving home last night,” said another Weibo user. “I couldn’t see the road at all.”

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Authorities in Qingyuan and Shaoguan also suspended ships from traveling through several rivers. Maritime departments dispatched forces to coordinate emergency tugboats and emergency rescue vessels.

Many hydrological stations in the province are exceeding water levels, weather officials warned. In the provincial capital Guangzhou, a city of 18 million, reservoirs have reached flood limits.

Data showed 2,609 hydrological stations with daily rainfall greater than 50 mm.At 8 a.m. Sunday, 27 hydrological stations in Guangdong were on alert.

In neighbouring Guangxi, west of Guangdong, violent hurricane-like winds whipped the region, destroying buildings. Some places have also experienced hailstones and major flooding, CCTV said.

In another video, rescuers could be seen trying to save an elderly person clinging to a tree half-submerged in flood waters.

As of 10:00 a.m. (0200 GMT), 65 landslides were recorded in the city of Hezhou located in Guangxi, state media reported.

Weather forecasters are expecting heavy rain through Monday in Guangxi region, Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.