More Chinese regions brace for floods as storms shift east

China's national observatory on Monday issued a blue alert for rainstorms as heavy downpours continue to wreak havoc in vast stretches of the country.

Torrential rain is set to hit China’s eastern coastal regions this week after overwhelming large parts of the southwest, inundating villages and tourist spots and displacing more than 700,000 people, state weather forecasters said on Monday.

China’s national observatory on Monday issued a blue alert for rainstorms as heavy downpours continue to wreak havoc in vast stretches of the country.

Heavy rain and rainstorms are expected in the provinces of Zhejiang, Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hebei and Shandong, the National Meteorological Center said.

Some of these regions will see up to 70mm of hourly precipitation accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds, the center said.

The center advised local authorities to remain alert for possible flooding, landslides and mudslides and recommended halting outdoor operations in hazardous areas.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue. Since June, continuous downpours have lashed large parts of southern China and the waters of many rivers in the affected regions exceeded warning levels.

Much of the damage has hit southwestern regions like Guangxi and Sichuan, and the municipality of Chongqing on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River last week experienced its worst floods since 1940.

But central and eastern regions are set to bear the brunt this week, with some facing 30mm to 50mm of rain per hour by tomorrow, the state meteorological bureau said.

Rainfall has been heavier than usual, with water volumes in 148 rivers already reaching emergency levels by mid-June. Local authorities are under instruction to pay attention to potential dam and reservoir collapses.

Some Yangtze tributaries have already experienced their worst floods ever, including the Xiaojinchuan in Sichuan Province. The water resources ministry warned last week that other smaller rivers could be “stricken by major floods” and lakes are also under close scrutiny.

Authorities in Sichuan said at least 12 people have died and 10 are missing after a heavy rainstorm hit Mianning County.

Nationally, the floods had affected about 12 million people, leaving 78 people dead or missing. Over 8,000 houses collapsed while 97,000 houses were damaged in 13 provincial-level regions.

Direct economic losses amounted to 25.7 billion yuan (US$3.64 billion), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

More than 210,000 people have been affected by heavy rainfalls in southwest China’s Chongqing City since June 26, the municipal flood control and drought relief headquarters said on Monday.

The municipal hydrological monitoring authorities said heavy downpours battered parts of the city on Sunday and Monday, leading to flooding in several rivers. The water levels of these rivers have since fallen below warning levels.

By 10am on Monday, heavy rainfall had hit a total of 267 towns across 25 districts and counties in Chongqing, affecting 218,953 residents. More than 4,700 people had been relocated. Rainstorms also damaged nearly 8,600 hectares of crops and toppled 370 houses, leading to a direct economic loss of 370 million yuan.

The municipal flood control and drought relief headquarters activated an emergency response on Sunday, requiring enhanced patrols in key areas.

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