Torrential rain lashed central China, leaving 21 dead

    18 Aug 2021

    Hundreds of homes were destroyed and almost 6,000 people were evacuated amid power cuts and landslides in Hubei province, The Guardian reports.

    Heavy rains killed 21 people and evacuated 6,000. Five cities in the central Chinese province of Hubei have declared a “red level of danger.” The rains destroyed nearly 3,000 homes and shops, and electricity, transportation, and communications failed. Extreme weather damaged 8,110 hectares of crops. The total loss is estimated at $17 million. 

    China regularly experiences floods during the wet summer months, but authorities say extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent due to climate change. And unfortunately, this is really happening all over the world.

    At least 21 people died as heavy downpours struck central China’s Hubei province, authorities said, weeks after record floods wreaked havoc and killed hundreds in a neighboring province.

    China has been battered by unprecedented rains in recent months, extreme weather that experts say is increasingly common due to global warming.

    In Hubei, torrential rains caused power cuts and landslides, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people, the province’s Emergency Management Bureau said on Friday, as reservoirs reach dangerous levels.

    “Twenty-one people were killed, and four others are missing as heavy rain lashed townships from Wednesday,” state broadcaster Xinhua reported on Friday.

    Footage showed families wading in water that had risen to almost hip level and carrying essentials in plastic bags in Yicheng, which saw a record 480 mm (around 19 inches) of rain on Thursday. Rescuers carried people to safety on bulldozers.

    “Yesterday the water levels rose to about two to three meters – my neighbor’s house was completely destroyed,” a resident from one of the worst affected areas in the city of Suizhou told local media.

    “We haven’t seen so much rain in 20 or 30 years”

    Hundreds of firefighters and thousands of police and military have been dispatched to the worst-affected areas, China’s ministry of emergency management said.

    Around 100,000 people were evacuated in the south-western province of Sichuan last weekend as heavy rains caused several landslides.

    More than 300 people were killed in central China’s Henan province last month after record downpours dumped a year’s worth of rain on a city in three days.

    China’s Meteorological Administration warned that heavy rainfall was likely to continue until next week, with regions along the Yangtze River, including Shanghai, vulnerable to flooding.

    This disaster was the latest deadly downpour in a summer of extreme weather that has killed hundreds of people across the country’s central region, NY Times states.

    The heavy rainfall, expected to continue through Friday night, has brought about 20 inches of rain to areas of Hubei since Wednesday, officials said. Four people were missing in addition to the 21 deaths in the township of Liulin, according to local news reports.

    The flooding caused more than 7,200 people to flee to shelters, while nearly 6,000 more were resettled, local news media reported. More than 280,000 people were affected by the floods, including those who sustained property damage, officials said.

    The property damage was extensive: In Liulin, more than 2,700 homes and stores were flooded, 63 bridges and about seven miles of roads were destroyed, and 221 buildings collapsed, according to news reports. Videos posted on social media showed rapidly moving floodwaters flowing through streets and overtaking buildings, with cars stuck on destroyed roads.

    China is facing the daunting challenges of climate change after modernizing at a time when its leaders favored economic growth over climate resiliency, making many of its cities ill-equipped to absorb water from torrential downpours. Though flooding is a complex problem with many causes, climate change is causing heavier rainfall in many storms.

    In early August, the government said 302 people had died in Henan Province from flooding since mid-July, including 14 who died in a subway tunnel that rapidly flooded in Zhengzhou. There were similarly heavy rains last summer, killing hundreds and causing billions in economic losses.

    Disaster relief and rescue efforts are underway.

    China’s National Meteorological Centre on Thursday issued a yellow alert, warning heavy rainstorms in some central and eastern parts of the country, calling for precautionary measures.

    Parts of the five provinces are likely to encounter over 80 mm of hourly precipitation accompanied by thunderstorms and gales.

    The national observatory has advised local authorities to remain alert for possible flooding, landslides and mudslides, and recommended halting outdoor activities in hazardous areas.

    China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

    Over 300 people were killed and 50 were listed missing when heavy floods ravaged Henan province and its provincial capital Zhengzhou city last month.

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