Floods hit south China

Guangdong province has been battered by heavy rainfall since 18 April, causing a massive flood along the Beijiang River. 

By the 23rd, 110,000 people had been evacuated, with four casualties and 10 missing, Xinhua reported. 

The flood season in Guangdong usually begins in mid-April. This year, however, authorities announced its start on 4 April. The Beijiang flood marks one of China’s earliest major floods on record. 

Aerial footage from China News showed water levels reaching the height of a one-story building in the main street of Yingde city. Rescuers have been evacuating residents from affected areas. As of 5am on the 22nd, the city had relocated close to 44,000 people, China News added.

Wan Shifeng, deputy director of the local hospital, said that since starting working there in 2007 he had experienced flooding on this scale three times. He explained that hospital workers had relocated some equipment to the first floor, but other equipment, such as hyperbaric oxygen chambers, had to be left. 

A local silkworm farmer told the media his larvae are close to the silk spinning stage of their lifecycle. Unfortunately, his 60 mu (4 hectares) of mulberry fields had been flooded, meaning he could no longer provide food for the silkworms and they all had to be cleared out.

Yingde has a history of heavy rainfall disasters, including in 2022. During major floods in Guangdong in 1997, 1994, and 1915, the city was also consistently affected.

The Paper points out that Yingde is a basin surrounded by mountains, and three rivers converge here. Due to the highly uneven spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall in the Beijiang Basin, flooding often occurs after abundant rain. Yin Zhijie, chief hydrological forecaster of the Ministry of Water Resources, told China Daily that climate change was behind the extraordinary scale of the floods. Climate warming means rising temperatures and heavier rainfall every year, he said.

Read Dialogue Earth’s analysis on how climate change exacerbated the 2021 Henan floods.