The torrential rains that hit China’s southern provinces over a week ago have killed 199 people, with 123 still missing as of Tuesday, as flooding continues to destroy homes and crops and disrupt traffic and communication.
Last Friday, the death toll was estimated at 150, but since Sunday, two more regions have been affected, bringing the total to ten areas hit: Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan and Guizhou. More alarmingly, the number of affected residents has risen from 9.27 million over the weekend to over 29 million people reported yesterday. The increase is most likely due to a dike bursting in Jiangxi, forcing 88,000 people to flee. While 3,500 emergency tents have been transported to the areas, only 2.387 million people have been evacuated altogether, says the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
Premier Wen Jiabao spent the weekend visiting Guangxi, inspecting the flood-stricken areas and helping villagers transport bricks. He urged people to prepare for the next round of storms predicted to hit the region and held a meeting to guide relief work. Wen said, “We lost our loved ones in this disaster. The only way we commemorate them is [by building] a hometown that is better than before. This will allow them to rest in peace.”
The weather has already destroyed 3.95 million acres of farmland, bringing damages from an initial estimate of 10 billion to over 42 billion yuan. Officials in Guangxi are now worried that the rising water levels will cause one of the 245 dams in desperate need of repairs to burst. The dams are considered a major threat to the Guangxi capital Nanning, but with the on-going inclement weather and hindered road access, there have been no reports as to whether the dams will be fixed in time. Fujian officials, though, have been discharging water from reservoirs to prevent dikes from breaching.
There doesn’t seem to be a goodwill program set up yet specifically to aid flood victims, but if you would like to help relief efforts, you could make a donation to the Chinese Red Cross.