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China says natural disasters caused 147 deaths or disappearances in July

China says natural disasters caused 147 deaths or disappearances in July
Source: Video Screenshot

China said Friday that natural disasters had caused 147 deaths or disappearances in July, after the heaviest rains since records began hit the country’s capital at the end of the month.

China has been hit hard by extreme weather in recent months, from record-breaking heatwaves to deadly rain.

Torrential rain brought on in the aftermath of Storm Doksuri, which hit mainland China as a typhoon last Friday before veering northwards, is the most severe recorded in 140 years, when records began.

China‘s Ministry of Emergency Management said that 142 of the deaths or disappearances recorded in July were caused by flooding or geological disasters.

The remaining five deaths or disappearances were due to other natural disasters such as drought.

Overall, floods and other geological disasters affected individuals to varying degrees over 7 million times.

More than 2,300 houses collapsed, and direct economic losses amounted to 15.8 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion), the release said.

The previously announced death toll from the floods in Beijing and surrounding provinces was at least 20, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

In that region, the rain has overwhelmed suburbs and rural areas, leaving a trail of muddy debris in its wake.

Dramatic aerial photographs taken by AFP of Hebei province’s Zhuozhou city showed shopping streets turned into rivers of brown water, while others showed farmland in the surrounding areas completely submerged and floodwater stretching for miles.

AFP saw rescuers using boats to ferry instant noodles, bread and drinking water to residents who could not or did not want to leave properties engulfed by water.

Storm Doksuri, a former super typhoon, swept northwards over China after hitting southern Fujian province last week, following its battering of the Philippines.

Heavy rains began pounding the typically dry capital and surrounding areas last Saturday.

The amount recorded in just 40 hours neared the average rainfall for the entire month of July.

Swaths of suburban Beijing and the surrounding areas have been inundated.

Authorities in the capital lifted the red alert for flooding on Wednesday morning “as the water flow in major rivers has gone below the warning mark”, state news agency Xinhua said.

Millions of people have been hit by extreme weather events and prolonged heatwaves around the globe in recent weeks, events that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based NGO the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that while the typhoon had brought the rain, rising ocean temperatures due to climate change were also causing the extreme weather.

“China has suffered unprecedented extreme heatwaves since last year… this year, there are record-breaking high temperatures in Northern China,” Ma told AFP.

“These heatwaves are linked to global warming, and this is what most climate scientists around the world tend to agree,” he said.

With rainfall easing, the focus has moved to the relief operation, with hundreds of rescue workers from the Chinese Red Cross being sent to hard-hit areas to clean up debris and help evacuate victims, Xinhua said.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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