China floods: Death toll 33, economic loss closing on $200mn

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the flood-hit areas of the central Chinese province of Henan with the death toll from the record rainfall rising to 33, officials said on Thursday. Army personnel and firefighters continued to help citizens stranded without food and shelter.

More cities in the province have been flooded and farmlands destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards closer to Hebei, a northern province near national capital, Beijing.

Xinhua news agency reported direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan ($189 million) until Thursday.

Torrential rain has affected about 3 million people in Henan province, severely impacting the capital city, Zhengzhou, where 12 people died in a flooded subway train carriage on Tuesday.

A total of 376,000 residents have been relocated to safe places, said the provincial emergency management department.

Global Times newspaper reported that “…electricity was still a luxury for some parts of the city as of Wednesday… A total of 468 out of 602 power lines haven’t been restored as of Wednesday night”.

The province has seen widespread damage to crops.

“Rainwater has damaged more than 215,200 hectares of crops, causing a direct economic loss of about 1.22 billion yuan,” the Xinhua report said.

“Henan is one of China’s major crop production regions and contributed 10% of the country’s total harvests.”

As the unprecedented rainstorm moved north on Thursday, more than 73,000 people were being evacuated from the city of Anyang, on Henan’s border with Hebei province. Anyang has been swamped by more than 600mm of rainfall since Monday, Xinhua reported.

Hourly rainfall in Zhengzhou, at the centre of this round of heavy rainfall, has hit a record high for the Chinese mainland, according to meteorologists.

Meanwhile, from 8am on Saturday to 8am on Wednesday, the accumulated precipitation in parts of Zhengzhou exceeded the city’s annual average of 641mm.

The Chinese finance ministry has earmarked 100 million yuan ($15.42 million) of disaster relief funds for Henan.

China’s state assets regulator on Thursday said that centrally administered state-owned enterprises have donated a total of 686 million yuan ($106 million) for disaster relief.

China’s national meteorological centre has forecast that Henan will see more rain and it will likely abate on Friday.

“Experts have warned of an extremely high risk of disasters caused by the continuous rainfall, calling for local governments to enhance prevention and control of floods and geological disasters and strengthen epidemic prevention work in advance,” Xinhua reported.