Almost 21 people dead as torrential downpour hit central China

 Friday, August 13, 2021

The central Hubei province in China has been grappling with unprecedented rainfall leading to “red alerts” in over five cities after heavy torrential rains left almost two dozen people dead. A number of deaths were recorded in the township of Liulin, part of the city of Suizhou in the province’s north part.

The heavy downpour has caused floods, landslides and power cuts, with thousands of houses and shops damaged. Transportation and communications were also disrupted.

21 people were killed, and four others are missing as heavy rain lashed townships from Wednesday.

There are  Hundreds of firefighters and thousands of police and military have been dispatched to the worst affected areas, including the cities of Suizhou, Xiangyang and Xiaogan, China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said. The city of Yicheng also saw a record 400 millimetres of rain on Thursday.

The torrential rain, a seasonal phenomenon in China, has been the most destructive this year, and authorities have warned that extreme weather is becoming more frequent due to climate change.

Around 6,000 people have been forced to evacuate from the high-risk areas, the province’s Emergency Management Bureau said on Friday, while as many as 774 reservoirs in Hubei had exceeded their flood warning levels by Thursday evening.

This comes after over 80,000 people had to be evacuated from the southwestern province of Sichuan last weekend. While a record rainfall in Henan last month caused floods that killed more than 300 people.

The China Meteorological Administration warned that heavy rainstorms were likely to continue until next week, with regions along the Yangtze river vulnerable to flooding. State weather forecasters also issued a geological disaster warning late on Thursday, saying areas at risk include the central provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Henan and Anhui, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou in the southwest as well as Zhejiang on the eastern coast.

According to government data, the flooding situation, which is worsening each year, displaced 744,000 people across 26 provinces by the end of June 2020, which was the worst rain-related disaster since 1998. This year, the situation remains worse, and questions have been raised over the government’s preparedness to prevent more considerable damage.

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