BEIJING – Flooding in China’s Yangtze river basin has left 112 people dead or missing in recent days, Chinese media reported on Tuesday, and more damage is feared from a typhoon expected to hit the country within a few days.
Some 16 million people have been affected by heavy rains that inundated vast areas near the Yangtze, China’s longest river, Beijing News cited said, on authority of the civil affairs ministry.
Water levels in Taihu Lake, close to Shanghai, are at their highest level since 1954, the news agency said. Additionally, the area will face an increased risk of flooding if a typhoon hits nearby areas on Friday, as expected.
A number of harrowing pictures posted by different sources highlight the scale of devastation and human suffering caused by the floods. including pictures of a farmer in eastern China breaking down in tears as waters crept towards his 6,000 pigs were posted by state media. Other images showed a sports stadium in the central province of Hubei turned into a “giant bathtub” by the rainfall.
Flooding is common during the summer monsoon season in southern China, but rainfall has been particularly heavy this year and many areas have been devastated by the torrential rains.
Rain is expected to move north this week towards the Huai river, Beijing News added.
China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang warned last month that a strong El Nino effect this year would increase the risk of floods in the Yangtze and Huai river basins.
Earlier, an El Nino effect caused China’s worst floods in recent years, killing more than 4,000 people around the Yangtze in 1998.
However, the paper quoted a meteorologist as saying that rain patterns were more scattered this year than in 1998, diminishing the risk of a similar death toll.
China’s national observatory issued an orange alert for storms across the country’s south and east last week — the second highest warning in a four-tiered system.
Whole villages were leveled and at least 98 killed in the eastern province of Jiangsu last month after the region was hit by a storm with hurricane-force winds and the worst tornado in half a century.
Floods have also hit South Asia this week, with 33 killed in Pakistan and 25 left dead in India after unusually heavy rains.