QINGYUAN, China: A cyclist peddles past floodwaters near a river in this city in Guangdong Province on April 21, 2024. - AFP
QINGYUAN, China: A cyclist peddles past floodwaters near a river in this city in Guangdong Province on April 21, 2024. - AFP
Landslides injure 6 as south China braces for massive floods

BEIJING: Landslides in southern China injured at least six people and trapped others, state media reported Sunday, as the region braced for severe floods “seen around once a century”. Torrential downpours across swathes of Guangdong province since Thursday have swollen rivers in the Pearl River Delta and triggered deluges in mountainous areas. State broadcaster CCTV said Sunday that rains had sparked landslides affecting six villages in the northern Guangdong town of Jiangwan, “causing people to become trapped”.

Photographs published by CCTV showed waterfront homes destroyed by a wall of brown mud, and people in fluorescent-colored ponchos sheltering in a soaked public sports court. No deaths were immediately reported and the total number of trapped people was not specified. But CCTV said six people who were “trapped and injured” in the landslides had been airlifted to the nearby city of Shaoguan.

Emergency workers were racing to restore communications to the stricken area “as soon as possible”, CCTV said. It added that more than 80 rescuers were working “through the day and night” to assist people in the disaster zone. The Pearl River Delta is China’s manufacturing heartland and one of the country’s most densely populated regions, with Guangdong alone home to around 127 million people.

Aerial footage by CCTV on Sunday showed murky flood-waters lapping close to street level in some towns, leaving riverside promenades and pavilions inundated and a pagoda protruding from the deluge. Authorities have launched a level-two emergency response in the Pearl River Delta, the second-highest in a four-tier system.

‘Once a century’

The national weather office imposed weather alerts across central Guangdong and warned of major storms in coastal areas through Sunday evening and into Monday. Citing the provincial hydrology bureau, CCTV said three monitored 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 5.8 m above the warning limit would strike the areas starting early Monday morning, according to CCTV.

Several other monitored tributaries in the basin would endure the kind of floods seen once every 50 years, it said. There were no initial reports of mass evacuations. Parts of the neighboring provinces of Jiangxi and Fujian were also forecast to see severe rainstorms on Sunday evening. China is no stranger to extreme weather but recent years have seen the country whiplashed by severe floods, grinding droughts and record heat. Climate change driven by human-emitted greenhouse gases makes extreme weather events more frequent and intense, and China is the world’s biggest emitter. – AFP

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