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China faces massive evacuation amid severe rainstorm crisis

Eastern China has been gripped by severe weather conditions, prompting the evacuation of nearly a quarter of a million people as rainstorms battered the region and caused major rivers like the Yangtze to swell, according to state media reports on Wednesday.

In recent months, China has faced a series of extreme weather events ranging from torrential rainfall to scorching heat waves. These phenomena are exacerbated by the country’s status as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, contributing to more frequent and intense climate-related disasters, scientists warn.

State news agency Xinhua reported that as of Tuesday afternoon, rainstorms had affected 991,000 residents in Anhui province alone, leading to the evacuation of 242,000 people. The storms wreaked havoc across 36 counties and districts in seven cities within Anhui, causing water levels in the Yangtze River’s Anhui section to surpass warning marks and continue rising. Additionally, torrential rains pushed water levels above alert thresholds in 20 other rivers and six lakes across the province.

Footage broadcasted on CCTV on Wednesday depicted sections of the Yangtze River rising perilously close to covering a sculpture in Wuhu, which typically stands about 12 meters above the river’s normal water level. Volunteers in red jackets were seen patrolling the riverbanks, while bright red lifejackets and lifebuoys were stockpiled ashore.

Xinhua reported that over 100 millimeters of rainfall was recorded at hundreds of weather stations across Anhui between Monday evening and Tuesday evening. In Hexi county, near Hefei, the provincial capital, rainfall reached up to 266 millimeters during this period.

To manage the crisis, tens of thousands of officials have been deployed to monitor dams and dykes along the Yangtze in Anhui, Xinhua added. The provincial weather office has forecasted more rain across extensive areas of Anhui from Wednesday to Friday and issued warnings for potential “geological disasters” in southern parts of the province.

The recent intense rainfall has already caused deadly incidents in southern China, including mountain floods in central Hunan that claimed five lives last month, and a landslide in the same province that killed eight people. In June, heavy rains and flooding in southern Guangdong province resulted in the deaths of 38 individuals. The situation underscores the ongoing challenges China faces in managing extreme weather events amid its broader efforts to address climate change impacts

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