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    As China’s Summer of Extremes Continues, Floods Engulf South

    The famous tourist city of Guilin has been hit with the worst flooding in decades, as freak weather disrupts the lives of millions across southern China.

    One of China’s most famous tourist destinations has been hit by the worst flooding in decades this week, as freak rain storms continue to wreak havoc across southern China.

    The city of Guilin — known for its iconic karst mountains — is still reeling after the Lijiang River surged to levels unseen this century, destroying crops, cutting off power, and leaving large parts of the city underwater.

    The floods have also impacted another 10 cities and 43 counties across the wider Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the southern province where Guilin is located.

    Local authorities in Guangxi estimate that the floods have already caused more than 185 million yuan ($25 million) in economic damages and caused more than 50,000 people to be evacuated.

    Many other parts of southern China — including Guangdong province — are also coping with their own flooding disasters, but the news from Guangxi has caused particular shock this week: not only because Guilin is a well-known tourist hub, but also due to the sheer ferocity of the rainstorms there.

    Hydrological stations around Guilin recorded that the Lijiang River hit a peak flood level of 148.88 meters, 2.88 meters higher than the warning line.

    Between June 12 and June 19, Rongjiang Town in Guilin received a massive 945.5 millimeters of precipitation, compared with an average of around 150 millimeters for the autonomous region as a whole.

    Li Jia, a resident of Guilin, recalled that heavy rain fell throughout the night on June 18. The next day, she woke up to find that many stores near her home were flooded and the roads were blocked, she told Sixth Tone.

    Public transportation was cut off in much of the city and schools and tourist venues had been closed, Li said. When the 19-year-old returned home on the afternoon of June 19, she found that her building had no running water or electricity.

    “It wasn’t until this morning that the power was restored, and the floodwaters began to recede,” she said.

    As of June 19, more than 40 hydrological stations along 24 rivers in Guangxi were still reporting water levels above the warning line, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

    Media reports indicate that there have been casualties. On June 19, a worker at a pharmacy in Guilin reportedly died from electrocution amid the floods.

    Meanwhile, extreme rainfall continues to cause massive disruption across other parts of China.

    Five people have been killed and another 15 are missing in Meizhou, Guangdong province, after rain storms caused widespread flooding, power outages, and landslides in several areas.

    Four people have died and another two are missing in Wuping County in the eastern Fujian province. More than 60,000 people have been relocated in Fujian due to the flooding.

    China has intensified its flood control and disaster relief measures this week amid the heavy rainfall. The country has declared a Level 4 emergency across much of southern, eastern, and central China, including in Guangdong, Hunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hubei, Anhui provinces, and the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing.

    Guangxi has been classified as a Level 3 emergency, requiring even more intense disaster relief efforts.

    Over the coming days, the rain belt that has battered the south is forecast to move northward toward the Yangtze River basin and the southwestern provinces of Guizhou and Yunnan, according to Fu Jiaolan, chief weather forecaster at the Central Meteorological Bureau.

    (Header image: A man tries to wade through a flooded area in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, June 19, 2024. VCG)