Heavy rains in southern China have killed at least 32 people, affected millions of residents and caused billions of yuan in economic losses, as the country grapples with increasingly devastating flood seasons fueled by climate change.
In recent weeks, torrential rains have caused severe flooding and landslides in large swathes of southern China, damaging homes, crops and roads.
And the landslides killed seven people in Guangxi Province on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The report said that one person is still missing.
In Hunan Province, 10 people have been killed this month and three are still missing, with 286,000 people evacuated and a total of 1.79 million residents affected, officials said at a press conference on Wednesday.
More than 2,700 homes have collapsed or severely damaged, and 96,160 hectares of crops destroyed – heavy losses to a province that serves as a major rice-producing center in China. Direct economic losses are estimated at more than 4 billion yuan ($600 million), according to officials.
Late last month, floods and landslides killed eight people in coastal Fujian Province, five people in southwestern Yunnan Province, and two children swept away by torrential rains in Guangxi Province.
Chinese authorities are on high alert for this year’s flood season, which began this month, after 398 people died in the country devastating floods Due to unprecedented rainfall in central Henan Province last summer.
Summer floods occur regularly in China, especially in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. But scientists have been warning for years that the climate crisis will amplify extreme weather, making them more deadly and frequent.
Global warming has already intensified the intensity of extreme precipitation events in the East Asian region, which includes southern China. The intensity and frequency of extreme rain events are expected to increase with global warming, according to the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The number of powerful tropical cyclones has also increased.
Henan, which was not traditionally an area that faced regular flooding, experienced what the authorities called a Rainfall “once in a thousand years” In some weather stations last July.
The provincial capital, Zhengzhou, which was responsible for the majority of the death toll, was not unprepared for the floods. City officials failed to respond to the five consecutive red alerts about heavy rain – which should have prompted authorities to halt gatherings and suspend classes and businesses. Flood water flow into the tunnels of the city subway system, Hundreds of passengers were trapped and 12 of them were killed.
Tragedy swept the nation, raising questions about the preparedness of Chinese cities for harsh weather.
Ahead of this year’s flood season, Chinese authorities have warned of a large number of “extreme weather events” that are expected to hit the country. Heavy heavy rains are likely to fall on the southern and southwestern parts of the country, as well as southern Tibet, According to the China National Climate Center.
In April, the Ministry of Housing, Urban and Rural Development and the National Development and Reform Commission said Chinese cities To learn from the Zhengzhou disaster and do their best to prevent urban flooding due to the “severe impact of extreme weather events” this year.
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