Flood alerts issued as more torrential rain forecast to hit China

Record-breaking rains that have battered parts of China and east Asia in the last week are expected to worsen, with authorities warning of an increased risk of floods.

In the first week of China’s flood season, extreme rainfalls have caused floods and landslides, destroyed roads and infrastructure, and led to the deaths of at least 15 people. Floods, landslides and disruptions to water and electricity were reported in Shaoguan, in northern Guangdong province, and more than 800,000 people in Jiangxi were reportedly affected by torrential rains that have so far hit 80 of the province’s counties and damaged more than 76,000 hectares (188,000 acres) of cropland.

Meteorologists are now predicting that a low pressure system across east Asia will bring even more heavy rain in the coming days to eastern China, northern Taiwan and Japan.

On Tuesday, China’s central weather agency issued a yellow rainstorm warning, with predictions of up to 180mm of rain in some areas, accompanied by thunderstorms and gale force winds. In Taiwan, authorities issued warnings for extremely heavy rain in western counties, lasting through the night.

The fatalities in the devastating week of torrential rains have included eight people caught in building collapses in Fujian, and three children in flood water in Guangxi.

Rivers in central provincial regions exceeded flood warning levels over the weekend, inundating some low-lying areas. On Sunday, rescuers in Jiangxi were forced to break into flooded houses to free trapped people.

“The water rose so fast that it only took 10 minutes to get above my knees. Thankfully, the rescuers arrived in time,” said Xu Juhua, a 73-year-old resident.

In Hunan province, hourly rainfall indicators exceeded historical records last week, with Taojiang county recording more than 312mm in 24 hours. “I’ve never seen such a big rain,” Li Hexian, a villager near Yiyang city told state media.

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China experiences extreme weather events, in particular flooding during the rainy seasons, but the climate crisis is exacerbating the severity and impact.

Authorities appear to be taking stricter action on severe rain warnings after a flooding disaster in Henan province last year killed at least 398 people. Most deaths occurred in Zhengzhou, where more than 600mm of rain – equivalent to an average year’s rainfall – fell in just three days. Officials were later punished or arrested for concealing the death toll or over inadequate responses.

“Although the disaster was triggered by extreme weather, many problems and deficiencies were exposed,” a report said. The weaknesses also exist to varying degrees in many parts of the country, [the investigation] noted, urging close attention and solid deeds to rectify them.

Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu


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