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China intensifies flood control, disaster relief steps

By Li Menghan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-18 19:18

An aerial drone photo taken on June 18, 2024 shows surging water flow in the section of Rongjiang River in Rong'an county, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has intensified its flood control and disaster relief measures across all levels to address the challenges posed by the recent heavy rainfall.

The National Committee for Disaster Reduction and Relief responded to the severe rainstorm and flood disasters in Fujian and Guangdong provinces by initiating a Level 4 emergency response on Monday. Task forces have been deployed to the disaster-affected regions to evaluate local situations, provide guidance for disaster relief efforts, and ensure the basic living needs of the residents are met.

Together with the Ministry of Emergency Management and the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, the committee has allocated 10,000 family emergency kits to the affected areas in the two provinces.

Due to heavy rainfall starting from Sunday, multiple areas in Meizhou, Guangdong province experienced power outrages, internet disruptions and disasters such as flooding and waterlogging, resulting in five people being killed and 15 missing as of Tuesday.

Currently, the water levels in the Meijiang and Hanjiang rivers in Guangdong are gradually receding, with the city-level prevention emergency response being alleviated from Level 1 to Level 2, the Meizhou emergency management bureau said on Tuesday.

The county-level emergency management bureau in Wuping, Longyan, Fujian province also downgraded the highest level of emergency response to the second-highest level on the same day. The rainstorm has resulted in four fatalities and two missing persons in Wuping as of Monday, with parts of Nanping, Sanming, Ningde cities and other areas of Longyan also being affected.

The Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration renewed the second-highest alert for mountain torrents on Tuesday, warning a high risk of flash flooding in northern Guangxi.

Chen Tao, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, said that as the western Pacific subtropical high gradually strengthens and moves northward from Tuesday, precipitation in Fujian and Guangdong will significantly decrease.

However, from Tuesday through the end of the month, the central and lower reaches of the Yangtze River will experience concentrated rainfall. During this period, areas in southern Guizhou, northern Guangxi, northern Hunan, eastern Hubei, northeastern Jiangxi, southern Anhui, and southern Jiangsu, will receive precipitation of more than 300 millimeters, which is more than twice the usual amount for the same period of a typical year, Chen said.

Jia Xiaolong, deputy director of the National Climate Center, said the lagging effect of the El Nino phenomenon may result in a comparatively bad summer climate condition, with an increased frequency of extreme weather events and floods being more prevalent than droughts. Precipitation levels in the eastern monsoon region is expected to be more than usual, and regional and episodic flooding disasters will be prominent.

Also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced allocation of 443 million yuan ($61 million) to seven provinces in northern China, including Henan, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Jiangsu and Anhui, in response to the drought-induced damage to crops caused by prolonged heat and insufficient rainfall.

The funds will be primarily used to provide subsidies for agricultural drought-resistant measures such as watering, soil moisture replenishment, crop conversion and additional fertilization to ensure the successful completion of the critical summer sowing stage.

Wang Weiyue, a meteorological analyst at China Weather, warned of a sudden shift between droughts and floods.

As the rain belt moves northward, some areas in South China will experience less precipitation and hotter temperatures. Meanwhile, areas of southern and eastern Hubei, central and northern Anhui and Jiangsu, which were previously affected by drought conditions, will see frequent rainfall in the next two weeks, Wang said.

Preparations should be made in these areas to prevent secondary disasters such as mountain floods, landslides, debris flows, and floods in small and medium-sized rivers, he added.

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