A makeshift raft provides an effective, if rudimentary, form of transport in a flooded village in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, on Sunday. Days of torrential rain have forced the evacuation of more than 500,000 people in central and eastern provinces. [Photo / Agencies]
Homes submerged and crops ruined as rain lashes eastern, central parts
SHANGHAI – Floods, triggered by days of torrential rain, continued to hit most parts of southern China on Sunday, affecting millions of people in Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan and Guangdong provinces.
The floods cut off roads, breached dikes, inundated villages and caused mudslides. Deaths were reported in many provinces.
In Zhejiang, the province hardest hit by the continuous rain, 2.7 million residents in nine cities and 50 counties had been affected as of Sunday morning. Flash floods forced nearly 1,000 enterprises to suspend production. More than 400 roads were cut off and 171,000 hectares of crops were destroyed, according to the provincial flood control headquarters.
Losses across the province amounted to 5 billion yuan ($772 million).
The downpour caused a mudslide that buried houses and killed two people in Zhejiang’s Changshan county.
In Zhuji city, where more than 20 villages were inundated since Thursday, at least one person was killed.
Many rural homes were submerged in water up to 3 meters deep. Local meteorologists forecast more downpours in the next two days.
But some farmers refused to leave their homes and were determined to safeguard their property.
Shou Lifeng, who decided to stay, with his family, in his three-story house in Mochengwu village, said on Sunday that they were in urgent need of food and clean water.
“The only thing that we can do is to pray for clear weather soon.”
Others in the village were worried about how they could make a living after their crops, mostly grapes and strawberries, were destroyed in the flooding.
Shou Juhua, in his 50s, had to use a dinghy on Sunday to check his grapes, located on nearby high ground and spared, at least for now, from the worst of the flooding.
“They are my only hope,” Shou said. “If they are destroyed I will have to migrate to a city to find a job. But I have no idea what I can do.”
Many farmers said that this was the worst flooding in decades.
“This is the biggest flood I’ve seen in 20 years,” Fu Xianjun, a farmer in Longyou county, said, as he gazed at his submerged crops.
“The crops were looking good before the floods hit. But now they’re under about 2 meters of water,” Fu, who has more than 25 hectares of paddy fields, said.
Fu is working day and night to drain the water. “I can only save 20 percent of the crops at most,” Fu said with a resigned sigh.
According to statistics released by the agricultural department of Zhejiang province, the rain has reduced vegetable production by about 20 percent.
Floods have also pushed up the price of vegetables, fruits and grains in Zhejiang.
At the Wanshouting food market in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, prices for green vegetables have risen, on average, by 40 percent.
“The heavy rain has ruined much of the farmland, and this means a sharp rise in food prices which is likely to continue for about two weeks,” Jin Changlin, an official at the agricultural department of Zhejiang, said.
In neighboring Jiangsu province, 16 workers were buried after a house collapsed on Sunday morning in Wuxi city.
Rescuers managed to dig six of the workers from the rubble, before sending them to hospital and are continuing to search for the others.
It was not clear whether the house collapse was related to the heavy rain.
Bu Ping, a 78-year-old woman who lives on the third floor of a building in Wuxi, said she had to stay at home for the entire day on Saturday as “many of the roads in the city were flooded”.
In Shanghai, heavy rain caused more than 300 airlines to delay or cancel flights at Hongqiao and Pudong airports as of noon Saturday.
“We’ve been on 24-hour alert since the annual flood season began in May,” Zhang Zhengyu, spokesman for Shanghai flood control headquarters, said.
In Hubei province, heavy rain over two days from Friday killed at least two people, with two others missing, according to the provincial bureau of civil affairs.
A total of 3 million residents in 31 counties were affected. At least 2,194 homes collapsed and 5,077 more were damaged.
Forty-four counties in Jiangxi province also suffered heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday.
Flooding in eastern and southern China this month has left more than 170 people dead or missing.