Economic and human losses soar as heavy rainfall continues in Southern China.
Heavy rain that continues to ravage southern China has claimed 365 lives and caused $US10.4 billion in damages, Reuters reports. More than 145 people have been reported missing as of Thursday, according to China’s Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH) Xinhua reports.
Torrential rains have battered 10 provinces and effected 30 million people, with a couple million people having been evacuated, according to Xinhua. And the rain is expected to continue.
Floods have already caused power outages and damaged roads as well as railways, while leaving millions of people without access to drinking water. Rain has already damaged 215,000 homes, flooded farmlands and killed 17 percent of the crops in the region, according to news reports. Long-term aid may be required as the loss of crops from the flooding could cause a food shortage in the next six to twelve months, according to ReliefWeb, a UN website for humanitarian news.
The floods arrived on the heels of the country’s worst drought in a century, which crippled several southern regions earlier. Although floods happen annually along China’s major rivers, including the Yangtze, this year’s season has been especially heavy and widespread in the south, the AP reports.
This is the worst flooding in the region since 1998–when 3,600 people died while 20 million were displaced. The Jiangxi province is experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years, according to Bloomberg, as the Fuhe River overran its banks for the second time Wednesday, forcing 100,000 residents to evacuate, while other cities in the province are in danger of landslides.
Meanwhile more than 16,000 soldiers and civilians have been mobilized by the provincial governments to aid in the flood relief and rescue work. The president of the World Water Council, a 14-year-old international think tank, applauded China for its flood relief response and resource mobilization, Xinhua reports.
Premier Wen Jiabao praised the response by relief crews, but told them to prepare for more flooding and landslides, Bloomberg reports. Food and tents have been rushed to scores of residents impacted by flooding, the International Business Times reports.
With more rain in the forecast, water levels on Hunan’s Xiang River are projected to reach a record high of 42 meters. Eight million people have already been impacted in the province.
Although rescue and relief efforts have been impeded by the steady rain, Wen offered encouragement to rescue workers.
“You are not afraid of sacrifice and in 48 hours, managed to rescue 100,000 people without a single casualty…You have created a miracle in history.”
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, the AFP, the AP, International Business Times, Xinhua, ReliefWeb, BBC