China floods and landslides displace 12 million
On the heels of landslides in Pakistan described as the product of that country’s “worst deluge in 80 years,” China’s Gansu Province has experienced floods and landslides which have so far left at least 127 dead, 2,000 missing, and forced the evacuation of some 12 million people, or roughly the population of metro Los Angeles. And this is only the newest tragedy in an ongoing pattern of weather-related disasters in central and southern Asia. The Guardian reports:
Half of the town of Zhouqu, in the south of Gansu province, was submerged. Water rose to the third storey of buildings and sludge as thick as two metres blocked major roads. Three hundred homes were engulfed by mud in the nearby village of Yueyuan, said an official.
China’s worst flooding for a decade has already killed more than 1,400 people, left hundreds missing and caused tens of billions of pounds in damage across a large swath of the country. About 12 million people have been evacuated.
But last night’s disaster in the Gannan Tibetan prefecture appears to be the worst single incident so far this year. Landslides levelled an area about 5km long and 500 metres wide, officials said, and more than 300 houses collapsed.
Residents rescued about 700 survivors, the state news agency Xinhua reported. Another 45,000 people were evacuated and thousands of soldiers converged on the area to dig out survivors and blast away debris that had created a barrier lake several kilometres long.
Zhouqu town is in a valley. Heavy rain quickly ran off the steep, barren hills, triggering mudslides and swelling the river.
China’s Xinhua news agency has said that rapid flooding and mudslides have rendered the destroyed town of Zhouqu inaccessible to motor vehicles. “We can only use spades and our hands to rescue the buried,” said police officer He Youxin.