High-level emergency response to disaster initiated after flash flood in NW China kills 17
Published: Aug 18, 2022 01:30 PM Updated: Aug 18, 2022 09:30 PM
A rescue team clears debris after a flash flood killed 16 people in Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County, Northwest China's Qinghai Province, on August 18, 2022. Photo: VCG

A rescue team clears debris after a flash flood killed 16 people in Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County, Northwest China's Qinghai Province, on August 18, 2022. Photo: VCG

China initiated a state level-three emergency response to natural disasters on Thursday after a mountain flash flood hit Datong Hui and Tu autonomous county in Northwest China's Qinghai Province that resulted in at least 17 deaths and left 17 missing.

A total of 6,245 people from 1,517 households in six villages under the administration of two townships were affected by the flood as of press time. As of 2 pm on Thursday, the total number of rescued people reached 20, according to China Central Television.  

The mountain flood was triggered by sudden heavy rainfall in Datong county at 10:25 pm on Wednesday. 

According to local residents in Hejiazhuang village, one of the places affected most by the flood, on Wednesday night, lightning and thunder lasted for more than 20 minutes, followed by a sudden downpour and flash floods nearly 50 minutes later. The flood was too strong for people to leave home, and communications were also cut off, media reports. 

In Shadai village, another affected village that's home to 298 households, villagers said that some cattle and sheep were washed away, and some houses located at the foot of the mountain were destroyed. A villager surnamed Li said he had not been able to contact his son and daughter-in-law in the village due to broken communication links, reported Jimu News.

Both villages are located in a gully area where the flood was concentrated.

Villagers said it was the first time in their memory that a flash flood had occurred in the area and it came too suddenly for them to be prepared, according to Jimu News. Video footage of the scene after the flood disaster showed houses and cars were damaged, and broken trees lay on the ground. 

As of press time, more than 2,000 people with more than 160 vehicles from the armed police, public security, and emergency and health departments had been sent to the scene for rescue work.

Many areas across China are faced with extreme weather conditions, with some regions hit by record heat waves and drought. 

On Thursday, a total of 470 million yuan of central disaster relief funds was allocated by China's Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Emergency Management for flood control and drought relief work across the country.

The two ministries announced to allocate 50 million yuan ($7.36 million) to support emergency relief work in Datong county, focusing on search and rescue, relocation of affected people, and emergency response work.

A staffer from the emergency management bureau in Datong county told the Global Times on Thursday that the rescue work is going smoothly, but details of the situation of the affected people were not given by the rescue teams, due to the weak signal at the scene after the disaster. 

Wang Xiangxi, Party chief of the Ministry of Emergency Management, led a working group to Qinghai to guide the rescue work. He urged preparations for sufficient medical resources for the injured, as well as strengthening flood monitoring and forecasting, and implementing early warnings and response mechanisms to prevent secondary disasters. 

Zhu Haoning and Huang Ziting contributed to this story