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Rainfall continues to batter southern China

By ZHAO RUINAN in Nanchang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-24 00:02
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Cars pass through a flooded section of the downtown area of Shexian county in Huangshan, Anhui province, on Sunday. Huangshan was struck by a second round of heavy rainstorms on Sunday as intense rainfall continued to pound the region. [Photo by Du Yu / Xinhua]

Torrential rainfall continued to lash parts of southern China on Sunday, triggering mudslides and flash floods in provinces such as Jiangxi and Hunan, where more than 10 people died.

Weather forecasters have warned that the downpours will further intensify in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River this week.

Two people died in a house collapse in a township in the city of Jiujiang, Jiangxi, while eight were killed in Hunan when a mudslide flattened four houses in a village in the province's Xinhuang Dong autonomous county, China Central Television and Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

Flooding in a township in Huaihua, Hunan, also caused one death on Sunday, while another person was reported missing, CCTV reported.

Heavy downpours battered the northwestern parts of Jiangxi starting on Saturday, with 14 monitoring stations in three counties reporting "severe rainfall", according to local authorities.

Yang Xiaoxiao, an official at Jiangxi's flooding and drought prevention department, emphasized the importance of focusing on the safety of embankments during heavy rains, and called for increasing crews and the frequency of patrols.

According to the Hunan Meteorological Bureau, 184 townships in the province experienced heavy downpours over the weekend.

On Sunday morning, the National Meteorological Center issued an orange alert for rainstorms, with vast regions in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River expected to witness heavy rainfall until Monday afternoon. China has a four-tier weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The China Meteorological Administration raised the national emergency response level from three to two on Sunday. The country also has a four-tier emergency response system, with level one being the most severe.

Meteorological experts warned that the overlapping of heavy rainfall areas increases the risks of flooding, geological disasters and waterlogging in urban and rural areas of several provinces such as Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Anhui.

On Saturday night, Shexian county in Huangshan, Anhui, sounded a red alert for mountain floods, which are natural disasters caused by surge flooding in mountain streams and gorges. The alert prompted emergency evacuation and relocation of people living in low-lying areas and along rivers.

Feng Deliao, a police officer at the rural Jiekou Police Station in Shexian, who was busy helping villagers relocate on Sunday afternoon, said the station, which serves four townships, had sent 12 of its 14 officers to assist in flood relief efforts.

Affected residents were urged to either move in with relatives in safe areas or relocate to disaster relief camps set up by the local government in schools.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters and the Ministry of Emergency Management mobilized multiple departments to analyze the current situation of heavy rainfall and previous drought conditions.

The analysis indicates that the intensity of rainfall in southern coastal regions is noticeably weakening, but regions in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the Jianghuai area are experiencing heavier downpours. Such a situation could easily trigger waterlogging or flooding in provinces that were previously experiencing drought, such as Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu.

In stark contrast to "severe rainfall" in central regions, parts of southern China that were previously affected by rainfall disasters are gradually returning to normal, the analysis said.

Repair work is currently underway in flood-hit areas of Meizhou, Guangdong province, where at least 38 people died in catastrophic flooding in the city's Pingyuan county over the past week.

Communication networks have been restored to pre-disaster levels in Meizhou, but parts of roadways and electricity and water supply lines are still being repaired. The power supply had been fully restored in 21 out of 33 flood-hit townships in the area, as of 6 pm Saturday.

By Saturday afternoon, water and power supplies were fully restored in all flood-affected villages in Longyan, Fujian province.

The flood control and drought relief headquarters in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, withdrew its level four emergency response to flood control as heavy rains in the city ceased and the water in all rivers dropped below their warning levels.

On Saturday morning, the scenic section of the Lijiang River in Guilin resumed operation, with 37 sightseeing boats carrying over 3,700 visitors, essentially returning to pre-flood levels of operation, local media Guilin Daily reported.

Zhu Lixin in Hefei contributed to this story.

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