Bracing for ‘once in a century’ floods

Major rivers, waterways and reservoirs in Guangdong province are threatening to unleash dangerous floods, forcing the government to enact emergency response plans to protect more than 127 million people.

Citing the provincial hydrology bureau, state broadcaster CCTV news said three locations in the Bei River basin would “experience flooding seen around once a century... due to the impact of heavy precipitation”.

Floods of up to 5.8m above the warning limit would strike the areas starting early today, according to CCTV.

Several other places would endure the kind of floods seen once every 50 years, it said.

China’s water resource ministry issued an emergency advisory, CCTV reported.

Guangdong officials urged departments in all localities and municipalities to begin emergency planning to avert natural disasters and promptly disperse disaster relief funds and materials to ensure affected people have food, clothing, water and a place to live.

The province has seen torrid downpours for several days and strong winds due to severe convective weather, which has affected several parts of China over the past few weeks.

A 12-hour stretch of heavy rain, starting from 8pm Saturday, battered the central and northern parts of the province in cities of Zhaoqing, Shaoguan, Qingyuan and Jiangmen.

Almost 20,000 people have been evacuated in Qingyuan, according to state media, and some power facilities in Zhaoqing were damaged, cutting power to some places.

Officials in Qingyuan also suspended classes in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, according to local media.

“Please look at Zhaoqing’s Huaiji county, which has become a water town. The elderly and children at the countryside don’t know what to do with power outages and no signal,” said one user on the popular social media site Weibo.

Raging muddy flood waters swept one vehicle down a narrow street in Zhaoqing, showed a video released by Hongxing News.

“It rained like a waterfall for an hour and a half on the highway driving home last night,” said another Weibo user. “I couldn’t see the road at all.”

Authorities in Qingyuan and Shaoguan also suspended ships from travelling through several rivers, with maritime departments dispatching forces to be on duty, and coordinate the emergency tugboats and emergency rescue vessels.

Many hydrological stations in the province are exceeding water levels, weather officials warned, and in the provincial capital Guangzhou, a city of 18 million, reservoirs have reached flood limits, city officials announced yesterday.

Data showed 2,609 hydrological stations with daily rainfall greater than 50mm, accounting for about 59% of all observation stations. At 8am yesterday, 27 hydrological stations in Guangdong were on alert.

In neighbouring Guangxi, west of Guangdong, violent hurricane-like winds whipped the region, destroying buildings, state media video footage showed.

As at 10am, 65 landslides were recorded in the city of Hezhou located in Guangxi, state media reported. — Agencies

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