China: 141 dead, dozens missing, millions displaced in Historic Flooding

Asia’s longest river, The Yangtze River region has seen its highest rainfall in over five decades affecting millions with deadly flooding.

At least 141 people have died or are missing since the floods began last month. Over 2 million people have been displaced.

The floods have submerged most of mainland China, including vast swathes of western areas like Tibet and Xinjiang.  Xinhua News Agency reported that floods damaged 28,000 houses, and caused direct economic losses of more than US$ 11.74 billion.

Heavy rains came just in time when China was easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions to jump start its economy.

Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, is particularly severely affected as the Yangtze flows through the province. Wuhan was the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak and experienced one of the country’s longest lockdowns.

Jiangxi Province, located in the east of China, is one of the provinces with the worst flood conditions. The water level of Poyang Lake, the largest freshwater lake in China, has risen to more than 22.52 meters, exceeding the warning water level by 19.5 meters.

China has a vast network of rivers. Flood warnings were issued on 433 rivers in total since mid-June. As many as 33 rivers have risen to their highest levels in history.

President Xi Jinping has mobilised the army for the rescue and resettlement of residents.

“China has entered the critical period for flood control,” Xi said.

Flooding has been a major threat to much of central China for centuries, but experts say the widespread construction of dams in recent decades have cut off connections between rivers, lakes and floodplains and have exacerbated flooding.

The rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers due to climate change may also be a cause of more dangerous summer flooding.