Tag Archives: Jiangxi

Worst Summer Rains In 60 Years Lash Southern China

Screenshot of Google map showing southern Chinese provinces worst affected by flooding during June 2022's annual summer rains

SOUTHERN CHINA HAS been seeing its heaviest summer rains for 60 years, bringing floods, widespread destruction of crops and more disruption to supply chains.

Hundreds of thousands of Guangdong and Guangxi residents living around the Pearl River delta have been evacuated after a week of persistently high rains. State media have aired footage of people being rescued with ropes and rubber dinghies, and cars floating down streets. Several cities in Guangdong have raised their flood alerts to the highest level.

The rain has disrupted manufacturing and shipping, already suffering under strict anti-Covid measures. Particularly in the more mountainous north of the province, where the flooding is most severe and landslides have happened, businesses were ordered to close temporarily, and public transport was suspended as rising waters approached dangerous levels. The direct economic loss so far is estimated at more than 1.7 billion yuan ($250 million).

To the north of Guangdong, Jiangxi province has also raised its flood warnings. Officials report direct economic losses already reaching 470 million yuan, with 43,300 hectares of crops inundated.

In neighbouring Hunan province, 21,607 hectares have been damaged, and there are reports of landslides and building collapses.

China’s National Meteorological Center warned that downpours could continue for another week, although the heaviest rains are expected to move northwards across central China from mid-week.

In recent years, climate change has made the south wetter and the north hotter and drier.

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Shrivelling Poyang Lake

Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake, is now one-twentieth of its former size.

When this Bystander last checked on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, in September it was recovering from the severe spring drought that had shrunk it to 400 sq. kms, barely a third of its average size over the past decade. That replenishment has not only stopped. It has been dramatically reversed, as the picture above, published earlier this week by state media and reportedly taken on Tuesday, and the one below, taken in November, show. Jiangxi’s provincial hydrographic bureau says the lake’s surface area is now less than 188 sq. kms, about 5% of its former size. At full capacity, it is as large as 4,500 sq. kms, or  more than six times the size of Singapore.

The lake is fed by five rivers in Jiangxi and empties into the Yangtze. Its water level has fallen so far that fishing is possible for barely three months of the year. The lake used to provide a livelihood for a fleet of 10,00 fishing boats, as well as being home to a rare finless porpoise. It also supports hundreds of thousands of migratory birds including the Siberian crane in winter, that, like the fishermen, depend on a lake full of fish to survive. The lake’s nature reserve authority is planning to stock the lake again to help both groups, though last year’s restocking failed as so many of the fry perished for lack of water. In November, the birds had to have food brought in.

Lack of rain this year is being blamed for Poyang’s shrivelling, but it is far from the only lake in China to be drying up. Nor is drought the sole reason.

A dead fish lies on the exposed riverbed of the Poyang Lake in Duchang, east China's Jiangxi Province, Nov. 4, 2011.


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Drought Again Shrinking Poyang Lake

China’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Poyang, is shriveling up again in the current drought. The lake, in Jiangxi and which feeds into the Yangtze, has shrunk to 964 sq. kms, barely a third its average size over the past decade, officials say. In the severe drought that occurred in the spring, the lake dwindled to 400 sq. kms in mid-May before heavy summer rains started to restore it. But now, the lake’s water level is dropping again, by a meter every five to ten days, as its surface area shrinks.

Lake Poyang is by far from the only lake in China to be drying up. Nor is drought the sole reason.

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Heatwave And Drought Parch Southwest China

Severe drought continues in southwest China. Temperatures have hit 40℃ in Chongqing with rivers and reservoirs drying up. The heat and lack of rain is expected to persist over the next week in Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Jiangxi. More than 2 million people in Guizhou alone are short of drinking water. Some 760,000 head of livestock are also short of water, while more than 1 million hectares of crops have been affected. In all, 6 million head of livestock and 6.9 million people are short of water across the Southwest. Almost 4.7 million hectares of arable land have been affected. However, officials say the effect on the grain harvest will be less damaging than in other years.

Meanwhile, heavy rainstorms, floods and landslides have hit 61 cities in the north and east of the country, causing at least 10 deaths.


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Flooding Death Toll Passes 100

The death toll from the flooding along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze river has now passed 100. State media report that as of Monday morning 105 people are dead and 63 are missing since June 3 when the drought-breaking summer rains began. Hunan is worst affected with 39 dead, 19 in one mudslide, followed by Hubei with 29, Guizhou with 24 and Jiangxi at 13. Flood relief operations are now being conducted across 11 provinces, with more torrential rain expected over the next three days. The economic cost of the floods, including destroyed farmland, is put at 8.7 billion yuan ($1.3 billion).

Meanwhile, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters say that 1.9 million hectares of farmland remain affected by drought, half the area at the peak. More than one million people are still short of drinking water, down from nearly 4 million at one point.

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Southern Rains Declared Done, But Danger Not Passed

As the heatwave stifling north and east China now reaches parts of the south, too, flood control officials have declared the seasonal rain storms that have caused devastating flooding and deadly landslides across 11 southern provinces over the past month to have come to an end. The rains, described as the worst in five years, have left 266 people dead with 199 more missing. Rain-triggered mudslides were responsible for four out of five of those killed or missing. More than 44 million people are said to have been effected and a third of a million homes destroyed. The direct economic damage is put at 65 billion yuan ($9.5 billion). Swollen rivers and weakened dams and embankments remain a danger.

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Relentless Rains Prompt Comparisons With 1998’s Deadly Floods

The death toll from the rain-triggered landslide in Guizhou three days ago that buried 37 homes under an estimated 2 million cubic meters of mud has risen to 13 with 86 others missing but presumed dead. The rescue operation has turned into one of recovery. The picture below shows paramilitary police searching the site of the disaster in Dazhai Village, Guanling county, Guizhou earlier this week.

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Torrential rain has battered Guizhou and other southern provinces over the past two months, causing widespread flooding and putting dykes and levees along swollen rivers at risk. Guangxi was hit earlier this week with what Xinhua described as a ‘once-in-three-centuries’ rainstorm. In Jiangxi to the east water levels in Poyang Lake, the country’s largest freshwater lake, are so high they are starting to force leaks through the lake’s embankments, putting some 10.000  people at risk should they fail.

All this is prompting fears of a repeat of 1998’s floods that left nearly 4,000 dead. As concerning heavy rains are now falling in Qinghai on the Tibetan Plateau where both the Yellow and the Yangtze Rivers have their headwaters.

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Deadly Rains Continue To Wreak Havoc

The monsoon rains that have inundated several central and southern provinces this month have brought the most severe flooding that Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou have suffered in half a century. Official figures put the death toll in June at at least 235 with a further 119 unaccounted for. At least 379 people have died as a result of flooding so far this year, the deadliest toll since 1998 when 3,600 died as a result of the rains.

On Monday, at least 107 people were buried by a rain-triggered landslide in Guizhou. In all more than 29 million people have been affected, with one in 10 those having to be evacuated from their homes. The economic cost is put at upwards of 82 billion yuan ($12 billion). Emergency relief efforts and fortification of riverbanks continues, as does the torrential rain with more in the forecast.

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Death Toll From Southern Rains Rising

The death toll from the rains inundating the south has risen to at least 175, Xinhua reports, with a further 107 unaccounted for.  Approaching 2 million people have been evacuated and relief and rescue efforts are struggling to keep up with rivers in Fujian, Jiangxi and Hunan swelling and more rains in the forecast, though the rainstorm alert has been lowered from orange to blue, the lowest level. The flooding and landslides caused by the torrential rain have washed away roads, rail and power lines, and affected more than 25 million people, causing 29.6 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) in estimated economic losses, according to the  Civil Affairs Ministry.

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Ganzhou Readies To Install Its Giant Clock

We reported last November that Ganzhou in Jiangxi, which bills itself as The Tungsten Capital of the World, was to build the world’s largest mechanical clock as the centerpiece of a new horology theme park. Installation is due to start this weekend and will take the rest of the month to complete.

The $1.5 million clock is big. With diameters of 12.8 meters, its faces are almost twice the size of those on London’s iconic Big Ben. None bigger are to be found anywhere. The clock will be housed in a 113 meter high tower, the Harmony Tower (artist’s rendition). The mechanism was built in England by clock maker Smith of Derby, which now owns the company that in 1925 built the clock in the tower of the Customs House on the Bund in Shanghai, though the original Westminster chimes were subsequently modified to play The East is Red.

The Ganzhou clock will chime conventionally on the hour and at sunrise. Its hands use carbon fiber materials developed for racing cars to keep the weight down, and include a third hand to chart lunar chapters. Yantai built the four faces using stainless steel.

This being the centerpiece of a planned tourist attraction cum business park, the Tower will also contain places to eat, including a rotating restaurant, commercial offices, a gallery where visitors can view the movement and an exhibition telling the history of timekeeping. The clock may be the world’s biggest mechanical clock, but it won’t be the highest. That is another Smith of Derby clock, at the Chicago head office of the U.S. aerospace company, Boeing, which is 170 meters above street level.

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