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2021-05-07 11:09:49

Chinese authorities have warned that cities in the country’s south could potentially face floods in the coming weeks as monsoons become more active.

The Ministry of Emergency Management said regions around the Pearl and Yangtze rivers may “exceed warning levels” this month due to the forecast rainfall, according to a statement published Thursday. The ministry also urged local officials to pay particular attention to the risks involving glacial snowmelts in the western Xinjiang and Tibet regions.

The warning came the same day that science journal Nature Climate Change published a study warning that the warming climate on the Third Pole — home to the earth’s largest ice mass — has been increasing the risk of a glacier lake outburst flood, particularly in the eastern Himalayas, a biodiversity hot spot stretching across China, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar.

China is on high alert for summer floods following last year’s historic flooding that inundated dozens of towns and large swaths of farmland, costing over 41.94 billion yuan ($6 billion) in economic losses. The 2020 flood was the country’s worst since 1998.

China has since worked to improve its emergency response and weather forecasting capabilities, earmarking 6 billion yuan to set up disaster response units in affected provinces in its central and southern regions. The country has also increased its national reserve for emergency supplies from 1.6 billion yuan to 4.4 billion yuan.

Zhou Xuewen, deputy minister at the Ministry of Emergency Management, said during a press conference Friday that the forecast for this year’s monsoon season includes regional drought and floods, as well as more extreme weather. Parts of southern China, including Guangdong and Yunnan provinces, have been experiencing drought since the winter of 2020 due to higher temperatures and lower rainfall, which as of late last month had affected drinking water access for around 1 million rural residents.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A car drives through a flooded street in Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, Chongqing, May 3, 2021. People Visual)