Heavy rain and thunderstorms have been wreaking havoc across China, with floods along major rivers destroying bridges, blocking roads and railways and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate, state media reported yesterday.
State TV said 241 rivers in 24 provinces had flooded over the past few days, causing direct economic losses totaling 25.9 billion yuan (US$3.87 billion).
Weather authorities forecast more downpours throughout the country yesterday, with floods and landslides expected in southwestern Sichuan Province.
Heavy rain and flooding hits much of China this time every year, often with hundreds killed, but the number of casualties this year has been relatively low, at least in the early summer, with one province reporting 15 dead.
The Chinese National Meteorological Center said rainfall could exceed 8cm per hour in some regions yesterday.
It also warned of floods in the northeast and called on authorities to halt outdoor activities and watch out for collapsing structures.
The flood-prone Yangtze River, which runs from Yunnan Province in the southwest to Jiangsu Province and Shanghai on the east coast, has seen a massive increase in water volume, causing flooding in many of its tributaries and increasing the water volume in the giant Three Gorges reservoir close to record levels.
State-run Xinhua news agency on Friday reported that more than 10 highways in Sichuan were inaccessible as a result of flooding and a bridge across Sichuan’s Min River, a Yangtze tributary, had collapsed.
Floods in the province had caused damage totaling about 2.4 billion yuan by Thursday, said the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management, which had sent emergency relief teams to Sichuan and neighboring Gansu Province.
The nearby city of Chongqing had evacuated more than 80,000 residents by Friday, Xinhua said.
Heavy rain has also caused the Yellow River, which runs through northern China, to burst its banks, blocking a section of a railway line in northwest Shaanxi Province.
Gansu, also in the northwest, reported 15 people killed, four missing and more than 1 million affected by a week of heavy rain and flash floods, the official China News Service said yesterday.
The normally arid region of Inner Mongolia, which had suffered weeks of drought, also issued a flood warning on Friday.
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