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Millions at risk of floods in China’s Guangdong province after heavy rain

Officials urge municipalities to begin emergency planning after major rivers and reservoirs threaten to overflow


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

Calling the situation “grim“, local weather officials said sections of rivers and tributaries at the Xijiang and Beijiang river basins are hitting water levels in a rare spike that only has a one-in-50 chance of happening in any given year, state broadcaster CCTV news said on Sunday.

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 experienced 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 (1200 GMT) on 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 floodwaters 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 in Guangdong 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 on Sunday.

Data showed 2,609 hydrological stations with daily rainfall greater than 50mm (1.97in), accounting for about 59% of all observation stations. At 8am on Sunday, 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. Some places have also experienced hailstones and major flooding, CCTV said.

In another video, rescuers could be seen trying to save an elderly person clinging to a tree half-submerged in floodwaters.

As of 10.00 am, 65 landslides were recorded in the city of Hezhou located in Guangxi, state media reported.

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