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China’s flood season leaves 219 fatalities, more than 4 million evacuated and 63 million affected

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Severe flooding from this year's rainy season in China has left a total of 219 fatalities and more than 63 million people affected, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) said in a press conference on Thursday, August 13, 2020. Over the past two months, more than four million have been evacuated amid historically heavy rains, with further deluge expected to continue in the weeks ahead.

The major flood season in China arrived on June 1 as heavy downpours battered several provinces, causing the water levels in rivers and lakes to increase, including the Yangtze River.

A total of 634 rivers across the nation burst their banks, with water levels surpassing the warning level. 194 of these rivers exceeded maximum guaranteed safety level, and 53 broke historic records.

Severe inundations also resulted in direct economic losses worth around 26 billion dollars or 180 billion yuan. Tens of thousands of infrastructure were damaged, including 54 000 houses.

Vice-minister Zhou Xuewen reported that a total of 219 people lost their lives in flood-related incidents, noting that these casualties were 54.7 percent less compared to the average in the past five years.

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More than 63 million people have been affected, including over four million people that have been evacuated. 

Most of the displaced citizens were temporary evacuees, spending a couple of days away from home before returning, while the rest had been ordered by the government to relocate.

Zhou estimated that more than 90 percent of those resettled by the government had to depend on relatives and friends for housing.

"Some people have homes in the city, and some have children in the city and went to live with them."

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According to Yu Yong, deputy director of the China Meteorological Administration, the amount of rain this season has broken scores of records across the country.

The Jianghuai river basin has received 760 mm (30 inches) of water over 62 days, marking its highest since 1961, according to China Meteorological Administration deputy director Yu Yong.

32 counties across central and southern China had also seen their daily rainfall records broken. Meanwhile, Zhou urged residents to remain on alert until the end of September.

"The possibility of flood disasters in the next stage is still very high, and there will be important work in flood prevention and response to come. We cannot relax."

Featured image credit: South China Morning Post/YouTube

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