Death toll rises to 30 in China floods

BEIJING (Agencies): At least 10 people were killed in floods in a city near Beijing, officials said on Saturday, bringing the death toll from recent torrential rains in northern China to at least 30. Officials reported the deaths in Baoding, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Beijing, adding that 18 people were missing.

Storm Doksuri, a former super typhoon that hit mainland China last Friday, has brought the most severe rains to the region since records began 140 years ago. By noon Saturday (0400 GMT), more than 600,000 of Baoding’s 11.5 million residents had been evacuated from areas deemed to be at risk, officials said. The torrential rain that hit northeast China on Saturday battered the provinces bordering Russia and North Korea.

A red alert remains in force in Beijing due to “geological risks” such as landslides linked to the bad weather. Clean-up operations are ongoing after the overwhelming rainfall, which destroyed infrastructure and flooded entire districts. China has been hit hard by extreme weather in recent months, from record-breaking heatwaves to deadly flooding.

Natural disasters caused 147 deaths or disappearances last month, China said Friday, after the heaviest rains since records began to hit the country’s capital. China’s Ministry of Emergency Management said 142 of the deaths or disappearances recorded in July were caused by flooding or geological disasters. Dramatic aerial photographs taken by AFP of Zhuozhou on Wednesday showed shopping streets turned into rivers of brown water, while others showed farmland in the surrounding areas completely submerged and floodwater stretching for miles.
AFP saw rescuers using boats to ferry instant noodles, bread and drinking water to residents who could not or did not want to leave properties engulfed by water.

Millions of people have been hit by extreme weather events and prolonged heatwaves around the globe in recent weeks, events that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change. Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based NGO the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that while the typhoon had brought rain, rising ocean temperatures due to climate change were also causing extreme weather.