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Death toll from southern China floods reaches 47

At least 47 people have died as downpours in southern China’s Guangdong province caused catastrophic flooding and landslides, according to state media.

State broadcaster CCTV said on Friday that another 38 people were confirmed dead in Meizhou city, adding to the nine who were previously known to have died in the same location.

Heavy rains hit between Sunday and Tuesday, causing landslides and floods in the region. As the death toll mounted, authorities warned on Friday of more flooding ahead in other parts of the country.

The search for survivors continues against rising odds. “Due to the severity of the disaster. .. the search and rescue of trapped people is difficult and time-consuming,” CCTV reported.

More than 55,000 people were affected by the rains, which have wrecked thousands of homes and roads, it said.

The direct economic loss caused by the disaster is estimated at 3.65 billion yuan ($503m) in Jiaoling county, while in Meixian district, the loss could reach 1.06 billion yuan ($146m).

This week the broadcaster dubbed the floods a “once-in-a-century” disaster, the biggest since historical records began.

A road leading to Meixian district had completely collapsed. And the Songyuan river experienced its biggest recorded flood.

A drone view shows a flooded embankment and damaged roads along Shiku river following heavy rainfall in Jiaoling county of Meizhou, Guangdong
A drone view shows a flooded embankment and damaged roads along the Shiku river following heavy rainfall in Jiaoling county of Meizhou district, Guangdong province, China, on June 19, 2024 [CNSphoto via Reuters]

The torrential rains in the south came as much of northern China baked under soaring temperatures well above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) this week.

Other parts of the country also face torrential rains and extreme weather in the next 24 hours, with the National Meteorological Centre issuing a warning for several southern provinces and a few northern locations.

Rainfall could be as high as 50mm to 80mm (1.97 to 3.15 inches) in one day in Henan, Anhui and Hubei provinces, said the forecaster.

Last week, southern Fujian and Guangxi provinces experienced landslides and flooding amid heavy rain. One student died in Guangxi after falling into a river swollen from the downpour.

Scientists say climate change makes extreme weather such as heavy rains and heatwaves more frequent and intense.

Greenhouse gases are a major cause of climate change and China is the world’s biggest emitter.

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