Floods in southern China force tens of thousands to evacuate

BEIJING (AP) — Major flooding has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in southern China, with more rain expected.

Guangdong’s manufacturing hub has suspended classes, office work and public transportation amid rising waters and the threat of landslides.

In neighboring Jiangxi province, nearly 500,000 people have seen their homes damaged and their lives uprooted.

About the same number were affected in Guangdong, mainly in the cities of Shaoguan, Heyuan and Meizhou.

Heavy rains have collapsed roads in parts of towns and washed away homes, cars and crops, and more rain is forecast for the coming days. Chinese authorities on Sunday issued the first red alert of the year, the most severe warning, for possible mountain torrents.

In the province of Zhejiang a little further north, rescue teams aboard rubber dinghies rescued residents trapped in their homes in flooded villages.

China regularly experiences flooding during the summer months, most often in the central and southern regions which tend to receive the most rainfall. This year’s flooding is the worst in decades in some areas and comes on top of strict COVID-19 regulations that have strangled travel, jobs and ordinary life across much of the country.

China’s worst flooding in recent years occurred in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and nearly 3 million homes were destroyed, mostly along the Yangtze, China’s mightiest river.

The government has invested heavily in flood control and hydropower projects such as the massive Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.

Globally, more intense tropical storms are on the rise due to climate change, leading to increased flooding that threatens lives, crops and groundwater.