2022-06-20 09:26:48

Several places in China have witnessed a range of extreme weather events, including torrential rainfall, flooding, tornadoes, and record-breaking temperatures over the past days and weeks, as changing climate patterns wreak havoc globally.

At least 52 people have been killed so far as heavy rainfall and severe storms in recent weeks continue to batter some half a dozen provinces in the country’s southern, central, and eastern regions, according to domestic media outlet Caixin. The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is one of the hardest hit areas, with at least 20 people killed or missing.

Torrential rainfall over the past weeks has triggered floods and mudslides in Guangxi’s rural areas, swamping farmland and damaging properties. Authorities said an estimated 145,000 have been evacuated to safer grounds.

As climate change increases the risk of floods, China is bracing for an increasingly intense flood season, which typically starts in May and lasts until September. Floods have caused the biggest economic loss for China out of all natural disasters in recent years.

Last year, unprecedented rainfall that submerged parts of central China’s Henan province eventually killed 398 people, making it one of the country’s largest natural disasters in decades. The floods resulted in direct economic losses worth over 120 billion yuan ($18.9 billion).

This year, in eastern China’s coastal Fujian province, at least 11 people have been killed in landslides and collapsed houses triggered by heavy rain since May, according to domestic media. More landslides and mountain torrents in the coming days could occur as heavy rainfall persists, Gao Lu, a natural disaster researcher in Fujian, told Sixth Tone.

On Monday, flash floods prompted the city of Yangchun in the southern Guangdong to close its schools for an entire day as heavy rainfall turned streets into rivers.

Two of the province’s biggest cities, Guangzhou and Foshan, were also hit by rare tornadoes on Thursday and Sunday, respectively, uprooting trees and disrupting power supplies. No casualties were reported.

On Monday, the Ministry of Water Resources said that major floods occurred again over the weekend in parts of the Pearl River Basin, a broader river system that encompasses Guangdong, parts of Guangxi, Jiangxi, and other provinces. Authorities have asked for heightened monitoring and communication of the danger to the public.

While rainfall, floods, and tornadoes ripped through southern and eastern parts of China, areas in the country’s northern and central regions were hit by heatwaves.

A weather station in Xixia County, Henan, reported a record-breaking surface temperature of 74.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday. About half the cities in the province reported abnormally high temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.

Meteorological departments have forecast that the heatwave is likely to persist on Monday, with temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius in parts of Henan, Hebei, and Shandong.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Buildings flooded in Foshan, Guangdong province, June 19, 2022. VCG)