A new round of torrential rain is battering the beleaguered areas of Central and South China and causing further losses.
Bai Chaohai, director of flood control and drought relief in Hunan Province, predicted the rainfall from Monday evening to Wednesday would range between 80 and 120 millimeters, with a peak of 220 millimeters, the Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.
“Compared with last time, the area affected this week will be larger while the rainfall will remain the same,” he said.
Hunan is one of the provinces that fared the worst during heavy downpours that have also wreaked havoc in Hubei, Jiangxi, Fujian and Guizhou provinces.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday that flooding and landslides in South China have left 105 people dead and 63 missing over the past 10 days. Hunan alone has seen 39 people killed and 21 more missing. Direct economic losses nationwide are estimated at over 7.4 billion yuan ($1.1 billion).
A sudden mudslide brought by flash rains killed over 20 villagers Friday in the village of Guanshan in Hunan’s Linxiang, a county-level city.
“The downpours took us by surprise,” Hu Zigui, an official at the publicity department of Linxiang, told the Global Times.
“Every year, there is a rainy season but never with such heavy rainfall,” Hu said.
Currently, over 500 survivors are living in tents at a primary school of Linxiang’s Hefan township.
“Some kids came to ask for clothes; they could not take spare clothes with them when running for their lives,” said Liu Qin, a local volunteer, who has been helping victims for days.
Some grieving families have complained about the slow response of the local government. “They arrived two hours after we called for help at 2 am,” 33-year-old Mao Canxin who lost both his parents and one sister in the disaster, told the Global Times Monday.
“We looked for most of the bodies ourselves,” Mao said.
Others complained of not having received aid from local officials. However, Tang Siwei, also from the publicity department of Linxiang, said this is because some have not sought help.
“With more rain ahead, we have started our emergency program and kept a closer eye on the weather,” Tang said.
Several hundred officials have been dispatched to villages and towns to help the disaster relief efforts, Hu said.
When talking about how to improve China’s flood relief efforts, Liu Shukun, an expert at the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research in Beijing, told the Global Times that China should carefully maintain small reservoirs, which pose a particular risk, and enhance the consciousness of disaster risk management.
Many small reservoirs, which were built in the 1950s, are leaky, but could be an asset in fighting floods.
“Local governments should make full preparation for such disasters like training villagers of risky locations and on what to do after a disaster,” Liu said.