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Monday May 20, 2024

Massive river flooding expected in China’s Guangdong, threatening millions

China’s water resource ministry issued an emergency advisory

By Reuters
April 22, 2024
A person cycles past flood waters near a river in Qingyuan City, in Chinas southern Guangdong Province. — AFP/File
A person cycles past flood waters near a river in Qingyuan City, in China's southern Guangdong Province. — AFP/File 

BEIJING:Major rivers, waterways and reservoirs in China’s Guangdong province are threatening to unleash dangerous floods, forcing the government on Sunday to enact emergency response plans to protect more than 127 million people.

Calling the situation “grim”, local weather officials said sections of rivers and tributaries at the Xijiang and Beijiang river basins are hitting water levels in a rare spike that only has a one-in-50 chance of happening in any given year, state broadcaster CCTV news said on Sunday.

China’s water resource ministry issued an emergency advisory, CCTV reported.

Guangdong officials urged departments in all localities and municipalities to begin emergency planning to avert natural disasters and promptly disperse disaster relief funds and materials to ensure affected people have food, clothing, water and somewhere to stay.

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, in a weather pattern which 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, cutting power to some places. Overall in Guangdong, 1.16 million households lost power due to the heavy rains, according to state-backed media. About 1,103 schools in Zhaoqing, Shaoguan and Qingyuan will suspend classes on Monday, Chinese state radio 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.” Authorities in Qingyuan and Shaoguan also suspended ships from traveling through several rivers, with maritime departments dispatching forces to be on duty and coordinate emergency tugboats and emergency rescue vessels.

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