Chinese province of Guangdong hit by historic floods


Heavy rains continued to batter southern China on Monday, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes as rescuers raced to evacuate those trapped by flooding and locate at least 11 missing residents.

The historic levels of rain across Guangdong province have come earlier than the region’s usual flood season, between May and June, prompting concerns about the effects of climate change on the country.

A car was swept away by heavy floodwaters on April 19, as southern China’s Guangdong province was battered by historic levels of rain. (Video: Obtained by Reuters)

Extreme weather events have become more frequent and severe in China, testing the top-down and increasingly centralized leadership under Xi Jinping that may be weakening local governments’ responses to such disasters.

The floods also threaten the country’s uneven economic recovery by hitting one of its most populous and wealthiest regions. Guangdong, a key manufacturing and commercial hub, is home to more than 127 million people and is China’s economic powerhouse.

The region has been pummeled by heavy rain since Thursday, triggering landslides that buried buildings and floods covering villages and cities. Provincial authorities issued 148 rainstorm alerts on Sunday and said the Bei River was expected to reach levels not seen in 50 years.

Footage carried by Chinese media showed rescue workers pulling residents out of cars and homes and transporting them by dinghies along submerged roads.

More than 82,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, authorities said. At least 1.16 million households lost power because of the storms, and more than 1,000 schools were closed on Monday. At least four weather stations in the region reported record precipitation for the month of April on Sunday.

Communication links with Jiangwan township in Guangdong, home to about 3,600 people, were cut off because of flooding on Sunday and only partially restored Monday using satellite connections and drones, according to state media. A group of 80 rescuers trekked overnight to reach the area on Monday, where several buildings were covered by landslides.

A cross-country race had to be cut short Sunday as runners were temporarily trapped in the woods with floodwaters reaching as high as their waists before being rescued.

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