Heavy rain around China’s Yangtze river basin has left 128 people dead and scores missing, media said Tuesday, with more damage feared from a typhoon expected to land this week. Flooding has forced some 1.3 million people to evacuate vast areas near China’s longest river and its connected waterways, the official Xinhua news agency cited the civil affairs ministry as saying. Millions more are threatened by the continuing downpour, which began at the end of June and has already destroyed at least 41,000 homes, it said.
Water levels in Taihu Lake near Shanghai are at their highest level in decades, according to Beijing News, which said the area faces a serious risk of flooding if a typhoon hits Friday as forecast. A farmer in eastern China broke down in tears as waters rose around his thousands of pigs, photos posted on state media showed. Other images showed a sports stadium in the central province of Hubei turned into a “giant bathtub” by the rainfall. Damage so far is estimated at over 38.16 billion yuan ($5.73 billion) and 42 people are missing, according to Xinhua. Flooding is common during the summer monsoon season in southern China, but rainfall has been particularly heavy this year and many areas have been lashed by torrential rains this week.
Rain is expected to move north in the coming days towards the Huai river, Beijing News reported. China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang warned last month that a strong El Nino effect this year would increase the risk of flooding in the Yangtze and Huai river basins. An El Nino effect was linked to China’s worst floods of recent years when more than 4,000 people died in 1998, mostly around the Yangtze.
The Beijing News quoted a meteorologist as saying that rain patterns this year were more disparate than in 1998, diminishing the risk of a similar toll. China’s national observatory issued an orange alert for storms across the country’s south and east last week
— the second highest warning in a four-tiered system. Whole villages were levelled and at least 98 killed in the eastern province of Jiangsu last month after the region was hit by a storm with hurricane-force winds