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Torrential Downpours Kill Dozens of People in Southern China

Heavy rainfall in parts of southern China has killed dozens, impacted millions of residents, and caused billions in economic losses
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: June 14, 2022
People are seen clearing out a flooded street caused by heavy rains in China’s Rongan county located in the southern Guangxi region on June 5, 2022. (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

As China attempts to recover from severe losses incurred by the nation’s “zero-COVID policies,” the country is also grappling against increasingly devastating flood seasons.

Prolonged rains in the first week of June caused floods in China’s Guangxi, Jiangxi, Fujian, and Hunan provinces, with at least 32 killed. 

In Hunan Province, according to official Chinese data, as of June 8, 2022, a total of 1,794,500 residents were affected, and at least 10 have died in relation to the floods.

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In recent weeks, heavy rainfall has also triggered severe flooding and landslides in large swathes across southern China — damaging residences, destroying crops, and flooding roads. In Guangxi Province, landslides killed seven people on June 12, state mouthpiece Xinhua news agency reported. At least one person remains missing, the report added. 

In Hunan, over 286,000 people have been evacuated and a total of 1.79 million residents remain affected, Chinese officials said at a news conference on June 11. 

The province, a major rice-producing region, suffered 4 billion yuan (US$600 million) in direct economic damage. According to officials, 96,160 hectares of crops were ruined, and more than 2,700 houses damaged or destroyed in the floods.

This aerial photo taken on June 13, 2022 shows flooded fields and buildings following heavy rains in China’s southern region of Guangxi.(Image: by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Floods growing in intensity and frequency

Late last month, flooding and landslides resulting from the prolonged rainfall killed eight residents in the coastal province of Fujian and five in southwestern Yunnan Province. In Guangxi Province, which borders Vietnam, two children were lost to the floods. 

The floods in Guangxi peaked on June 7 and June 8, passing through the city of Guigang and destroying many homes in the area. According to data presented by the Wuzhou Hydrological Center, the water level had reached almost 70 inches at its peak.

A video showing flooded roads and houses along the river as residents attempted to row out of their destroyed homes in makeshift rafts were widely circulated across Chinese social media, as reported by Minghui, a U.S.-based website. 

Last July, authorities called a torrential downpour in China’s central Henan Province, a “once in a thousand year’s downpour.” At one point, Henan’s capital of Zhengzhou was pelted by nearly 8 inches of rain in an hour. In just three days, it had accumulated 24 inches — or nearly a year’s worth — of rainfall, according to data from the Zhengzhou meteorological station.

Authorities on high alert 

Chinese authorities are on high alert for this year’s flood season, which starts in late May, after the deaths of 398 people resulting from the devastating floods in Henan last summer.

Summer floods are a regular occurrence in China, especially in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. However, floods in the last few years have been particularly intense; this year, Chinese authorities warn that many “extreme weather events” are expected to hit multiple regions. 

This summer, the Chinese National Climate Center said that torrential rains are likely to strike the southern and southwestern provinces, including parts of southern Tibet.