The shocking images of China battling deadly floods in an all-out national effort are chilling reminders that no country is safe from the ravages of nature.
With some countries in the region also suffering from similar heartbreak, authorities around the world have been reminded to remain alert to growing threats arising from extreme weather and to be prepared as far as possible.
The deluge has wreaked havoc in Beijing and neighbouring provinces, killing dozens of people and affecting millions others.
The involvement of military personnel in defence and evacuation procedures following instructions from President Xi Jinping may, hopefully, bring the situation under control.
An additional injection of 350 million yuan (HK$381 million) was made on Sunday, raising disaster relief funds to some 520 million yuan so far.
Questions have again been raised as to whether the impact could have been reduced by various measures.
We do not know how many cities could have escaped unscathed from 1,000mm of rain in three days, the equivalent to two years of rain in the country’s northeast and the heaviest in the capital for 140 years. But conventional wisdom and hindsight conclude better preparation may have helped.
In an era where climate change is behind worsening storms and droughts, even the most advanced countries risk being caught unprepared.
Although nothing may be done about the force of nature, emergency efforts in the face of disaster can be strengthened. That includes better coordination in rescue and relief measures for those suffering.
Calls to strengthen weather and hydrological monitoring should also be acted on to enhance preparedness.
Extreme rain has caused floods and landslides across some Asian countries, including India and Japan. The flooding on the mainland is part of the fallout from super typhoon Doksuri, which slashed across the southeast province of Fujian last week before battering the capital and neighbouring provinces.
Hong Kong was lucky to escape a direct hit, but remains vulnerable to typhoons as always because of its location. While the nature of extreme weather makes preparing for the unexpected difficult, failing to do so will only make things worse.