BEIJING – Flooding from torrential summer rains, which has killed at least 700 people and displaced millions, is the worst China has suffered in more than a decade, officials said Wednesday.
The rains, which began in May following a severe drought in southern China, are inundating cities and villages throughout the country. Well over half of China’s provinces are now enduring monsoon-like downpours, flooding and landslides.
Flood season plagues China every summer, but this year’s is likely to be the most devastating since 1998 when flooding killed about 4,150 people.
“What’s different about this rainfall is that it’s very concentrated in the areas that it has hit, and it has fallen in a short period of time. That’s why in some areas and rivers the amount of rain has reached historic levels,” Kuang Yaoqiu, a professor with the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry.
The most recent deaths have been in the northwest province of Shaanxi, where 41 people were killed and 107 others are missing since the weekend. In the northern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin, heavy rain has also caused damage. On Monday, in the Liaoning county of Tieling, 14 inches of rain fell over the span of 24 hours, causing a dam to break and flooding an entire village.
Tropical Storm Chanthu is expected to hit the southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong within the next day.