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April 23, 2024

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4 killed, 10 missing in storms amid Guangdong evacuations

Four people are dead and 10 others missing following storms that battered southern China, media said yesterday, with tens of thousands evacuated from areas hit by torrential downpours.

Heavy rain has descended upon the vast southern province of Guangdong in recent days, swelling rivers and raising fears of severe flooding that state media said could be of the sort only “seen around once a century.”

“Three deaths were reported in Zhaoqing City while the remaining one is a rescuer in Shaoguan City,” Xinhua news agency reported, citing local authorities.

Ten others remain missing as search and rescue efforts in the area continue to be carried out. More than 110,000 people have been relocated across Guangdong, according to Xinhua.

Of those, more than 45,000 were evacuated from the northern city of Qingyuan, which straddles the banks of the Bei River, a tributary in the wider Pearl River Delta, media reported yesterday.

In some parts of Qingyuan, rescuers tackled neck-high waters to extract residents, including an elderly lady trapped in waist-deep water in an apartment building.

Others remained on the upper floors of their houses, waiting for the waters to recede as friends delivered food by boat.

Before 2022, it rarely rained as heavily as it does now, and the floodwaters were never as high, said Qingyuan resident Lin Xiuzheng, an online retail sales worker.

Across the province, 36 houses collapsed while 48 were severely damaged, resulting in a direct economic loss of nearly 140.6 million yuan (US$19.40 million), Xinhua reported.

Many rivers remained swollen yesterday, however, at levels above safety thresholds, with rainfall in recent days two to three times more than normal at this time of the year.

Heavy rain is expected to continue, with meteorological authorities forecasting “thunderstorms and strong winds in Guangdong’s coastal waters” — a stretch of sea bordering major cities, including Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

The intense convective weather in southern China was caused by a stronger-than-normal subtropical high, a semi-permanent high pressure system circulating north of the equator.

The subtropical high led to warmer temperatures that drew in more moisture-laden air from the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal, meteorologists said, resulting in the intense precipitation.

Neighboring provinces, including parts of Fujian, Guizhou and Guangxi, will also be affected by “short-term heavy rainfall,” the National Meteorological Center said.

“It is expected that the main impact period of strong convection will last from daytime until night,” it added.

Authorities yesterday issued a yellow alert for rainstorms — the second-lowest in its four-tier system — with high levels of precipitation expected to continue across large swathes of the country.

Guangdong is China’s densely populated manufacturing heartland, home to around 127 million people.

In Jiangwan Town, six people were injured and a number were trapped in landslides caused by heavy rain on Sunday, media reported.

Photographs published by CCTV showed waterfront homes destroyed by a wall of brown mud, and people sheltering in a soaked public sports court.

CCTV reported on Sunday that floods as high as 5.8 meters above the warning limit would strike in Pearl River tributaries yesterday morning.


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