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China evacuates 500,000 as flooding

Breaks worst drought in 50 years

Water levels on 40 rivers, including the Yangtze, above safety limits as authorities warn of dykes and dams under pressure China has evacuated more than 500,000 people from deadly floods that are devastating areas in the south of the country following the worst drought in 50 years.


At least 105 people have been swept to their deaths or killed in landslides and another 65 are missing after rivers burst their banks. The authorities have issued the highest level of alarm about dykes and dams under dangerous pressure.

Television channels that were only recently broadcasting images of dried-up lake beds are now carrying footage of flooded homes and boats plying their way through inundated streets. China Daily said 550,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

The dramatic shift is in line with weather trends identified by the Beijing Climate Centre, which says rain is coming in shorter, fiercer bursts, interspersed by protracted periods of drought.

The worst affected province is Zhejiang, where some stretches of the Qiantang river have risen to their highest level since 1955, according to the Flood Control and Drought Relief Office.

In the Zhuji district, which has had 40.5cm of rain since the start of the month, the Puyang river inundated 88 villages and 13,000 hectares of crops.

In neighbouring Jiangxi province, troops have helped 122,400 residents evacuate from vulnerable lowlands, according to the China News Service. Roads have been closed and bridges have collapsed in the floods, which have also affected Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.

Monitoring stations on 40 rivers have recorded water levels above the safety limit, including Asia’s biggest waterway – the Yangtze – which is simultaneously suffering a flood downstream and a drought closer to its source.

Meteorologists warned that the torrential downpours are forecast to move southwards or inland. Li Xiaoquan was quoted on China’s weather news website as saying that the rains were expected to affect Sichuan, Chongqing and Guangdong provinces before easing on Sunday.

Filed in: World News

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