Video: Thousands flee as ancient Chinese town hit by neck-deep floods

Thousands flee and power is cut off as would-be Unesco heritage site is deluged

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 12:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 6:21pm


Tens of thousands of people evacuated from one of China’s renowned ancient towns after it was submerged in water today as heavy rain hit the centre of the country.

Reports said electricity had been cut off and 50,000 tourists and locals had been evacuated from Fenghuang and the surrounding county.

Pictures showed it inundated, with the central span of a bridge poking up through the waters.

In some of the worst-hit areas, the waters were neck-deep and people were seen carrying their children and belongings over their heads.

WATCH: Scenes from the flooded ancient town: TV report

According to Xinhua news agency, the Tuojiang river in the  town had reached 1.1 metres above its previous highest recorded level, and  several bridges had been damaged or destroyed.

More than 1,200 rescuers were working Wednesday to evacuate residents and  tourists, according to Xinhua, and some 4,000 shops had been affected, with  water flooding into hotels, bars and restaurants.

More than 40 trains were cancelled, it added, citing the Guangzhou Railway  Corporation.

“Torrential downpours have led to [the] Fenghuang old town becoming a water town,” said a posting on a discussion page on the topic set up on Weibo.

Central and southern China are regularly hit by powerful storms in the  spring and summer months.

The old town district of Fenghuang nestles on the banks of a winding river in a picturesque, mountainous part of Hunan province, and boasts stunning Qing- and Ming-dynasty architecture dating back hundreds of years.

It can attract 30,000 visitors a day and has applied for world heritage status recognition from Unesco.

At least 14 people were killed in flooding in Hunan and the neighbouring  province of Jiangxi and region of Guangxi last month, Xinhua reported.   

In May, three people were killed and thousands evacuated after several days  of rainstorms in southern China, flooding major cities and affecting air and  rail transport.

An earlier round of rain and hail storms triggered flooding and landslides  in the region that killed at least 16 people in March.