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China hit by rare union of record rainfall, heatwaves and a tornado

China hit by rare union of record rainfall, heatwaves and a tornado

File photo of an aerial view showing flooded residential buildings due to rising water levels of the Yangtze river in Jiujiang, China's central Jiangxi province, on Jul 18, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal)

BEIJING: A rare convergence in China of record rainfall, heatwaves and a tornado hitting the southern megacity of Guangzhou this week displaced millions of people, damaged properties and swamped farmland.

Southern China is expected to see torrential rains until Tuesday (Jun 21), Chinese state television reported on Friday, with no immediate reprieve to the vast and populous region inundated by downpours in the past week.

Authorities had issued warnings of "extreme weather events" as early as April, ahead of the rainy season that signals seasonal transition from spring to summer in June.

China is historically prone to floods, triggering landslides and swamping many acres of farmland.

In recent times, it has grown even more vulnerable due to deforestation, the reclamation of wetlands and the storage of water for power generation and irrigation.

China also blames climate change for the increase in extreme weather events.

"Weather conditions in China will tend to be unfavourable this summer," an official at the country's aviation regulator said at a news briefing on Friday, adding that severe convective weather can be expected.

Late on Thursday, a tornado ripped through parts of Guangzhou during a heavy rainstorm, local media reported, cutting off power supply to more than 5,400 users in the sprawling southern city, capital of Guangdong province.

Media in Guangzhou reported dangerous water levels with high waves in the broader Pearl River Basin, prompting the central government to dispatch flood prevention workers

Since May, precipitation in the Pearl River Basin - a vast river system encompassing Guangdong and parts of Guangxi, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan - has risen to its highest since 1961, according to state media on Friday, citing China's National Climate Center.

In Fujian province north of the basin, authorities warned that recent record-breaking rainfall would persist into next week, posing a high risk of natural disasters.

Meanwhile, temperatures in central and northern China are expected to hit unusual highs into next week, surpassing 40 degrees Celsius.

The abnormally warm weather has already enveloped the Henan capital of Zhengzhou, which was hit by record rainfall and paralysed by devastating floods last summer.

Source: Reuters/ng
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