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Dozens killed in China floods as rivers overflow

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 04/07/2017
The flooded bank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, Hubei province [Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera The flooded bank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, Hubei province [Reuters]

At least 50 people have been killed in floods in China as water levels in more than 60 different rivers have risen above warning levels, according to officials. 

The Chinese government said it has disbursed $103m in emergency aid so far to help southern and central the provinces deal with the flooding.

The annual floods have been even greater than normal and the last week has been particularly wet.

Changsa, the capital city of the province of Hunan, recorded nearly half a metre of rain in a week. This amount is well above the average and is nearer what could be expected on average throughout June, July, August and September put together.

Across Hunan, the flooding has forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate, damaged crops and destroyed houses, causing a total direct economic loss of $1.22bn, the provincial civil affairs office said.

IN PICTURES: Floods in China kill scores, displace tens of thousands

The river Laodao, a tributary to the mighty Yangtse, exceeded its previous depth and set a new record. At nearly 40 metres, it required a 5km sandbank levee in a failed attempt to save Changsa from flooding.

Rising water levels left Orange Isle, a popular tourist destination in Changsha, almost completely submerged, with only roofs and trees peaking out above the floodwater.

The Yangtse itself, Asia's longest river and with a capacity to match, has burst its banks in Hunan.

According to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, continuous, heavy rain that started in mid-June has caused the water of 10 major tributaries of the Yangtze, as well as 89 middle and small-sized ones, to rise to record levels.

Over the last two days, the seasonal monsoon rainband, the meiyu-baiu front, has eased off in Hunan but reinvigorated in the southwestern province of Guangxi.

The water levels in the rivers of northern Guangxi are now a major concern, most having exceeded the warning line.

The forecast for the next three days sees much reduced rainfall in the currently flooded areas, although another 100mm is still possible in Anhui.

More worryingly, the area likely to receive heavy rain next, is in Sichuan province, in the area of a recent fatal mountainside collapse.

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