Torrential rain kills dozens in southern China as climate change amplifies flood seasons
In recent weeks, heavy rains have caused severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China, damaging homes, crops and roads.
In Guangxi province, landslides killed seven people on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency reported. One person remains missing, according to the report.
In Hunan province, 10 people have been killed this month and three are still missing, with 286,000 people evacuated and a total of 1.79 million residents affected, officials told a conference in press on Wednesday.
More than 2,700 homes have collapsed or suffered serious damage, and 96,160 hectares of crops have been destroyed – heavy losses for a province that serves as a major hub for rice production in China. Direct economic losses are estimated at more than 4 billion yuan ($600 million), officials said.
Late last month, floods and landslides killed eight people in the coastal province of Fujian, five people in the southwestern province of Yunnan and two children who were swept away by torrents in the province of Guangxi.
Summer floods are common in China, especially in densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. But scientists have been warning for years that the climate crisis will amplify extreme weather events, making them deadlier and more frequent.
Global warming has already made extreme rainfall more intense in the East Asian region, which includes southern China. The intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events are expected to increase as the Earth warms, according to the latest scientific data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The number of powerful tropical cyclones has also increased.
The tragedy has gripped the nation, raising questions about how prepared Chinese cities are for extreme weather.