Chinese authorities have warned of extreme weather and “multiple natural disasters” in the coming month, as heavy rain damaged infrastructure and forced thousands to be evacuated.
An alert was in place on Tuesday for rain-triggered disasters in large swathes of central and southwestern China, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Meteorological authorities have warned the country will face “multiple natural disasters in July, including floods, severe convection weather, typhoons and high temperatures”, the agency said.
And in a sign of the damage caused by the downpours, workers Tuesday discovered that a closed-off railway bridge on the outskirts of southwestern metropolis Chongqing had collapsed after it was “damaged by the impact of mountain torrents”, state broadcaster CCTV said.
More than 400 emergency personnel have been sent to survey the damage and secure the area, with dozens of trains redirected, according to CCTV, which did not say if there were any casualties.
In the neighbouring province of Sichuan, authorities Tuesday said more than 460,000 had been affected by the heavy rain this month, Xinhua reported.
About 85,000 people have been evacuated from their homes as a result of the rain, officials said, with “flash floods in mountainous areas” and “possible mudslides in some parts” expected this week.
More than 10,000 people have also been evacuated after floods in the central Henan province damaged more than 2,000 homes, provincial officials said on Sunday.
And over the weekend, dozens of homes and roads were damaged in Shaanxi province during “once-in-fifty-years” torrential rains, the Communist Party-owned Chongqing Daily said Monday.
Chinese media published footage of cars drifting down a flooded road in Hunan last week, with murky torrents gushing past apartment blocks and shops.
Scientists say rising global temperatures — caused largely by burning fossil fuels — are aggravating extreme weather worldwide, and many countries in Asia have experienced deadly heat waves and record temperatures in recent weeks.
China is the world’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change, responsible for roughly a quarter of all current carbon pollution.
The country has set a target of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality 30 years later.
The floods coincided with record heat waves in other parts of China, with the country’s National Meteorological Center warning residents in the capital Beijing and a dozen other regions to stay indoors with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.
China recorded an average of 4.1 days each month in the first half of this year in which temperatures exceeded 35 degrees, the highest since national records began in 1961, according to a National Meteorological Center statement on Sunday.
In June, Beijing sweltered through a total of 14 days of temperatures exceeding 35 degrees, matching the record set in July 2000, according to the state-run Beijing Evening News.