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    As Devastating Floods Continue, Chinese County Issues Plea for Aid

    Hunan’s Pingjiang County has been hit by the worst flooding in decades, leaving local residents short of food and drinking water.

    A county in central China’s Hunan province has issued an urgent call for aid after being hit by an unprecedented flood that has devastated local infrastructure and left residents short of essential supplies.

    Over the past two weeks, Pingjiang County has experienced the heaviest rainfall since meteorological records began, causing a local river to swell to its highest level in 70 years on Tuesday morning.

    The deluge — the latest in a series of disasters affecting much of southern China in recent weeks — has forced thousands of people to flee their homes and caused severe damage to local businesses and agriculture. No casualties have yet been reported.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Pingjiang’s flood control and drought relief authorities called for public donations to help the region weather the crisis. Bottled water, bread, instant noodles, and candles were all urgently needed, according to the statement.

    “People all over the country are very concerned about the disaster situation in Pingjiang. After the announcement was made yesterday, supplies arrived very quickly,” Yu Songbai, a worker at a charity association run by Pingjiang’s civil affairs bureau, told Sixth Tone.

    Large amounts of bottled water, instant noodles, candles, and disinfectant had already arrived in Pingjiang as of Wednesday morning, Yu said. However, the county still has shortages of cooking oil and rice.

    Located in the northeast of Hunan province, Pingjiang County has a population of around 1 million people. The region is famous in China for producing a spicy snack known as latiao.

    The region was tipped into crisis after an intense period of rainfall on Monday that saw around 300 millimeters of precipitation dumped on Pingjiang between 4 a.m. and 12 p.m. — a phenomenon that experts described as highly unusual.

    “After the precipitation system developed, the convective cloud clusters stayed over Pingjiang and continued to develop,” Liu Hongwu, chief forecaster at the Hunan Provincial Meteorological Observatory, told domestic media. “It is quite rare for such a large convective cloud to remain stationary over a particular area for such a long time.”

    The rain has caused massive damage throughout Pingjiang, destroying over 2,600 bridges and roads, damaging over 3,200 homes, and affecting more than 2.1 million acres of crops, according to preliminary estimates. Around 360,000 people have been impacted by the disaster.

    Pingjiang’s historic city center has been hit hardest, with floods submerging nearly one-third of the area. Around half of the surrounding newer areas have also been flooded. Though the floods began to subside on Wednesday, residents of the old city are still unable to return to their homes due to the severe damage, according to Yu.

    “The disaster situation in the old city is more serious because the water level was very high there,” he said.

    The water level of the Pingjiang section of the Miluo River receded below the warning level of 70.5 meters early on Wednesday morning, according to the Yueyang Hydrological and Water Resources Survey Center.

    Local authorities also lowered their flood control emergency response level on Wednesday, but warned that risks of landslides and disease outbreaks remained.

    (Header image: A rescue crew is on its way to transport people in Pingjiang County, Hunan province, July 2, 2024. VCG)