From drought to flooding in days

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2011, 12:00am


Residents of drought-ravaged central provinces have undoubtedly been relieved to see rain in recent days, but for many, the respite has been short-lived, as continuous rains are triggering widespread flooding in many regions.

And those torrential downpours, which have been hammering several provinces since Friday, showed no signs yesterday of abating soon, with national weather officials forecasting them to continue for at least three days.

The heaviest rains fell in a swathe running from Guizhou province to just south of the mouth of the Yangtze River, but flooding was also reported in Inner Mongolia and the northeast.

In Hunan province - one of the areas worst affected by the drought - some 600,000 residents were affected by flooding over the weekend. Flooding has been reported in 103 of the province's cities since Saturday morning, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The state news agency reported that at least 13 people were missing in Wangmo county, Guizhou, yesterday morning after 24 hours of rainfall caused widespread flooding. Water levels of the Wangmo River were three metres higher than the recommended safe level during rainy weather, and local authorities had evacuated 6,000 residents.

An estimated 71,200 people had already been affected in the province, and some saw their homes washed away, Xinhua reported.

Additionally, power has been out and many roads are flooded, hindering traffic.

Chinese Central Television last night broadcast footage of residents in a number of cities taking shelter on roofs as the streets below had turned into rivers.

In Fenghuang county, Hunan, 276mm of rainfall was recorded over three days, the China Meteorological Administration reported.

More than 200mm fell in many areas to the south of the Yangtze's lower and middle reaches.

The administration last night issued warnings of further heavy and torrential rainstorms in southern Guizhou, northern Guangxi , central Hunan, southeastern Anhui , central and northern Jiangxi , most of Zhejiang and northwestern Fujian province, with the worst rains expected to hit western Zhejiang and northeastern Jiangxi.

The administration also predicted a moderate level of rain and thunderstorms in northern Xinjiang , the eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau , eastern Inner Mongolia, most of the northeast, central and eastern parts of northern China and all areas south of the Yangtze.

The rain is due to lessen in intensity by tomorrow, but will likely continue to affect much of the country, particularly in the south.

Zheng Guoguang, head of the weather administration, told China National Radio yesterday the rain would continue into the middle of the month, bringing an end to the record drought seen across large areas of the mainland. The rain 'will significantly help in alleviating the drought', Zheng said. But authorities would still need to fight the effects of the drought, as water levels were low in major lakes, rivers and reservoirs.


The drop in rainfall in Jiangxi this spring and summer compared to the same period last year, which has led to a drought