Death toll from torrential rain across China rises to 186
Some 56,000 homes have collapsed and about 1.5 million people evacuated, authorities say
Torrential rain across swathes of the mainland over the past few days has inflicted a heavy toll, washing away rail lines, shutting down city road networks and turning a massive sports stadium into a swimming pool.
By Sunday, the death toll from the downpours stood at 186, with another 45 missing, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
Eight of the fatalities were in Wuhan, Hubei province, where a factory collapsed and buried workers under a wall.
The authorities said that throughout the country about 1.5 million people had to be evacuated and 56,000 houses had collapsed. The direct economic losses amounted to 50.6 billion yuan (HK$59 billion).
In all, roughly 1,200 counties in 26 provinces and municipalities had been affected.
Those taking the biggest hit were Zhejiang, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan, as well as Chongqing and Guizhou.
The downpours prompted authorities to raise the national flood alert to level three, with level one the highest.
Various provinces, including Hubei, upgraded their own emergency response alerts to level two.
Wuhan rail authorities suspended operations on 17 lines and the closures will continue to affect 10 lines on Monday.
In total, 45 roads in the city were flooded and impassable to cars. But roads to the city’s Tianhe International Airport were reopened to traffic after being closed a day earlier.
Also in Hubei, a section of a railway track near Macheng was washed away on Saturday, forcing a delay of several hours to at least one service, from Shenzhen to Jinan in Shandong province, until the line was repaired.
The rain also flooded Mingtang Stadium in Ezhou for the first time since it was built three decades ago.
In Anhui, several tourist spots in Jinzhai county were closed amid mudslides, landslides and road subsidence. The local government had to step in to bus out stranded visitors.
The heavy rain is forecast to continue to Wednesday in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Huai River area, and parts of western and southern China.
“Our country’s flood control work has entered a critical stage. For the next step, the state authorities will make plans based on the most adverse situation,” the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in a statement on its website.
Jiang Yansheng, deputy chief engineer of Hubei’s flood control office, said the authority was prepared for any flood possibility in major parts of the Yangtze and Han rivers.
“Combatting the floods [in small rivers] over the weekend was just a beginning for us. We will meet bigger challenges soon,” he said.