BEIJING, China (AFP) — Sixteen people have been killed and dozens are missing in flash flooding in northwest China after a sudden downpour triggered mudslides and caused a river to change course, state media reported Thursday.
The floods occurred in a mountainous region of Datong county in Qinghai province, affecting more than 6,200 people from six villages, state broadcaster CCTV said.
“As of noon on the 18th, 16 people have been killed and 36 are missing,” added CCTV, saying rescue work was ongoing.
The deluge comes during a summer of extreme weather in China, with multiple cities clocking their hottest days on record.
A video feed of the aftermath published by state media showed roads covered in mud, uprooted trees, damaged homes and rescue workers carrying shovels.
A “frontline headquarters” has been set up to organise the emergency response, according to the state media report.
“The rescue work is progressing in an orderly manner,” the report said, adding that sudden heavy rainfall Wednesday night had triggered the situation.
– Extreme weather –
Scientists say extreme weather across the world has become more frequent due to climate change, and will likely grow more intense as temperatures rise.
Severe flooding in southern China in June displaced more than half a million people and caused an estimated $250 million in damage.
On Wednesday, Chinese authorities warned that heavy rains were also expected to hit northern regions of the country including the capital Beijing and its neighbouring Tianjin and Hebei.
Earlier this week, President Xi Jinping called on officials in the northeastern Liaoning province to “ensure the safety of people’s lives in flood control”, state media reported.
Meanwhile, millions of people in southwest China are facing rolling power cuts after a crushing heatwave led to an electricity supply crunch that has forced factories to halt work.
Sichuan province relies heavily on dams to generate its electricity but the heat has caused reservoirs to dry up, exacerbating the energy shortage.
Water volume in Sichuan’s major rivers has fallen by between 20 and 50 percent in the absence of rain, severely hitting hydropower generation, state news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday, citing provincial energy officials.
The China Meteorological Administration said the country was going through its longest period of sustained high temperatures since records began in 1961, with 64 straight days of heat warnings in various regions starting in June.
More than a third of weather stations in China recorded extreme heat this summer, with 262 of them reaching or surpassing previous records, the administration said.
© Agence France-Presse