More than 120,000 people have been forced to leave their homes after severe flooding in China’s northern Shanxi province that has affected about 1.75 million people in total, authorities said.
The floods – caused by heavy rainfall that reached levels almost four times the usual monthly average – destroyed 17,000 homes, forced the suspension of operations of hundreds of mines, and damaged 190,000 hectares of farmland.
China Global Television Network reported villages inundated by water, trapping residents and causing the collapse of some dams. Aerial footage showed railway bridges washed away, leaving tracks hovering in the air, and sections of an ancient wall around the Unesco-listed ancient city of Pingyao were also eroded.
Details on casualties or injuries have not been released. The Global Times reported last week that four police officers had died in a landslide on Tuesday.
Among the more than 400 suspended mining operations, 60 were coal-producing. China is experiencing crippling electricity shortages, reportedly caused by coal shortages and record high prices, which have prompted authorities to order increased coal production elsewhere in the country.
According to state media, 59 national meteorological stations reported the highest ever recorded daily rainfall, and 63 their highest accumulative total over the period. The Fenhe River reached its highest level in four years, they said.
Torrential rains fell for several days last week across the province. In 12 hours overnight to Thursday morning, Shanxi, which ordinarily has an average of 31.3mm for the month, had an average 119.5mm across the province. Eighteen counties recorded more than 200mm, with a maximum of 285.2mm.
Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, recorded rainfall of 185mm, about seven times the pre-2010 average for October.
More rain and colder weather was expected, the state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.
Hao Nan, the head of a disaster information service centre, told the Global Times the scope of the flooding was worse than the disastrous rains which hit Henan earlier this year, but the impact had not been as bad. Hao’s primary concern for Shanxi was the accompanying cold weather, the report said.
More than 300 people died in Henan in July when record-breaking rainstorms hit the province, overflowing reservoirs, breaching riverbanks, and overwhelming public transport systems and roads in many cities.
The majority of fatalities occurred in the capital city, Zhengzhou, where more than 600mm of rain, equivalent almost to an average year, fell in just three days. About 40 people died in underground carparks, while at least 20 others died in a flooded road tunnel and metro station.