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China flood victims race to salvage property

The severe floods in Guangdong are linked to worsening climate change, a rare occurrence so early in the year
Workers clear debris from a flooded area following torrential rains in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24, 2024.

Workers clear debris from a flooded area following torrential rains in Qingyuan, in northern Guangdong province on April 24. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 24, 2024 05:19 AM GMT
Updated: April 24, 2024 05:23 AM GMT

Victims of severe floods in southern China raced on April 24 to salvage property from the muddy waters, as authorities warned of more heavy rains to come.

Massive downpours have struck Guangdong province in recent days, triggering deluges that have claimed the lives of four people and forced the evacuation of over 100,000.

The severe floods are virtually unheard of so early in the year even in lush, subtropical Guangdong, with one senior official linking them to worsening climate change.

AFP reporters in Qingyuan on April 24 saw staff and officials at a tourist resort taking advantage of a break in the rain to clear mud from the streets.

"The water has really risen over the last few days," said Liu Yongqi, 25, the general manager of a local homestay.

"The road was flooded and for five days we could only get to the rest of the village by small motorboat," she told AFP.

"Luckily we had enough supplies here anyway," she said, adding that the cleanup operation would take "another two or three days."

Elsewhere, residents waded through knee-deep water to salvage chairs and other belongings from the floods.

One woman in a conical farmer's hat and rubber boots used a bowl to gather water for the elevated beds in her otherwise inundated garden.

Authorities have warned of more downpours across Guangdong from April 24 evening until April 26.

Up to 240 millimeters of rain is expected in many areas, rising to as much as 300 millimeters in some places.

Officials also issued a warning over "rumors" that the deluges were causing supply shortages and price spikes for basic goods.

"In order to strengthen management of market prices during flood season... do not fabricate or spread information about price rises, tight supply lines or dramatic increases in market demand," Guangdong's market regulator said in a notice on April 23 evening.

Guangdong is China's manufacturing heartland, home to around 127 million people.

Parts of the province have not seen such severe flooding so early in the year since records began in 1954, according to state media reports.

"Intensifying climate change" raised the likelihood of the kind of heavy rains not typically seen until the summer months, Yin Zhijie, the chief hydrology forecaster at the Ministry of Water Resources, told the state-run China National Radio on April 23.

China is the biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change but has pledged to reduce emissions to net zero by 2060.

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