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Relentless deadly rains lash southern China

June 21, 2024

Hong Kong (CNN) — Tens of thousands of people across southern China have been evacuated, with many more potentially at risk, as deadly torrential rains continue to lash the region, causing flash flooding and mudslides.

At least 13 people have died since June 9, Chinese state media reported Friday, with dramatic footage showing urban areas submerged in water and buildings appearing to subside as emergency responders in speedboats raced to rescue stranded residents.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday that at least nine of the deaths had occurred in the city of Meizhou in Guangdong province, among the hardest hit places amid reports of record flooding along the banks of the Songyuan and Shiku rivers.

The southern province is an economic powerhouse home to 127 million people and is subject to annual flooding from April to September.

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But the region has faced more intense rainstorms and severe flooding in recent years as scientists warn the climate crisis will amplify extreme weather, making it deadlier and more frequent.

Earlier in the week, more than 10,000 people were evacuated from Meizhou, and as many as 130,00 were left without power, with authorities in the city raising the flood control emergency response to Level-I, according to state media.

China’s flood control emergency response system has four levels, with Level-I being the most severe.

In the nearby southern province of Fujian, state media reported at least four people had died, with heavy rainfall affecting an estimated 586,500 people across 40 counties.

And in Guangxi, a neighbouring southern region to the west, state media reported 48 rivers were running above flood alert levels, forcing authorities to introduce a Level-II emergency response.

(Photo: John Ricky/Anadolu/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

The Lijiang River, a famous and popular tourist destination that runs through Guilin, saw its worst flooding since 1998, resulting in over 6,000 people being evacuated, state media reported on Thursday.

The emergency response to the flooding comes as Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday called for all-out efforts to safeguard lives and property, as China grapples with extreme weather with heavy rains in the south and severe drought and record temperatures in the north.

Other parts of China are also facing earlier and longer extreme heat periods and droughts each year, causing widespread power shortages and disruptions in food and industrial supply chains.

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