BEIJING – A new round of rain beginning on Monday was expected to batter Central, East and South China, where 98 people have died and 78 are missing due to rain-triggered floods, landslides and other disasters, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.
By Sunday torrential rain had triggered floods and landslides in 13 provinces, affecting 10.4 million people and destroying 645,000 hectares of farmland, according to the CCTV report.
It also said the direct economic loss had reached 8.7 billion yuan ($1.34 billion) and a level-3 emergency alert over the recent floods had been declared.
“The intensity and location of recent rainfalls have caused many casualties and much damage to properties in some areas,” Chen Lei, minister of water resources and deputy head of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said on Saturday.
The China Meteorological Administration on Sunday issued a level-3 emergency alert in response to forecasts of strong rainstorms that will hit the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and southern China in coming days.
Under this alert, local meteorological authorities will work 24 hours a day to monitor changes in the weather and issue warnings in case of any potential natural disasters.
Several areas in Hubei, Anhui and Zhejiang provinces will experience torrential rains accompanied by strong gales and thunderstorms, and rainfall in some areas will reach 300 millimeters, the administration said.
This new round will batter areas which had been hit by previous downpours after suffering months of drought, Sun Jun, chief weatherman of the National Meteorological Center, told CCTV on Sunday.
“The drought made the ground drier, so it is easier for the heavy rain to sweep away sand and rocks and trigger landslides,” he said.
The China Meteorological Administration warned that this round of heavy rain would last for about four days, increasing the risk of flash floods and landslides in these areas.
Other sources of natural disasters are threatening China. Sarika, the third tropical storm this year, weakened to a tropical low pressure after landing in South China early on Saturday. But heavy rains in Guangdong and Fujian provinces will continue.
Water levels in major rivers were at least a meter lower than the warning line on Sunday morning, and floods had receded in Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, said a statement released by the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
It also said only some minor rivers like Tingjiang River and Jiulong River in Fujian and Shuiyang River in Anhui witnessed water levels exceeding the warning lines. The water level in parts of Taihu Lake, Jiangsu province, was 3 to 25 centimeters higher than the warning level.