Death toll in south China flooding jumps to 38: state media

By AFP   June 21, 2024 | 06:38 pm PT
The death toll from heavy rains and flooding in southern China's Guangdong province this week rose sharply to 38 on Friday, state media reported.
A villager clears tree branches stuck on the bridge in the rain at a flooded area in Liuzhou, in south-western Chinas Guangxi province on June 13, 2024. Photo by AFP

A villager clears tree branches stuck on the bridge in the rain at a flooded area in Liuzhou, in south-western China's Guangxi province on June 13, 2024. Photo by AFP

China has endured a spate of extreme weather so far this summer, with deluges in the south coming as a heatwave has swept across the north.

Downpours in densely populated Guangdong this week sparked inundations and landslides, with some areas seeing record flooding.

Authorities said on Thursday nine people had been killed around the city of Meizhou but the toll had jumped to 38 by mid-afternoon Friday.

"Due to the severity of the disaster... the search and rescue of trapped people is difficult and time-consuming," state broadcaster CCTV said.

More than 55,000 people were affected by the rains, it said, adding that over 2,200 homes and nearly 4,700 roads had collapsed.

The disaster also damaged hundreds of power facilities and water pipelines as well as nearly 7,000 hectares of crops, according to CCTV.

The broadcaster said direct economic losses as a result of the flooding were estimated at 5.85 billion yuan ($805.7 million).

Footage by CCTV on Friday showed an entire village inundated by muddy water that lapped against broken masonry and roofs with missing tiles.

Trucks lined up along an embankment worked to pipe the floodwater out of the settlement and into a nearby reservoir.

Summer of extremes

State media reported this week that some areas had endured "once-a-century flooding... (or) the biggest since historical records began".

The central government has allocated 105 million yuan ($14.5 million) in emergency flood relief for flood-hit areas, state media said Friday.

Aside from Guangdong, the provinces and regions of Guangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou have all been affected.

While torrential rains have struck the south, northern China has sweated in temperatures well above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Authorities in several provinces have issued heat warnings since the start of June, urging residents to limit exposure to the sun and to stay hydrated.

Rain showers provided some relief from the heat on Friday in the capital Beijing, where the mercury climbed to 37C (98.6F) last week.

Scientists say climate change makes extreme weather such as heavy rains and heatwaves more frequent and intense.

China is the world's biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are a major cause of climate change.

Beijing has pledged to bring emissions of carbon dioxide -- a potent greenhouse gas -- to a peak by 2030 and to net zero by 2060.

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