China raises flood emergency response in Guangdong as heavy rainfall continues
Beijiang River in Pearl River basin sees second flood in 2024
Published: Apr 21, 2024 10:43 PM
Rising water from the Dongguanshui River caused by continuous rainfall floods a village in Qingyuan, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 21, 2024. Photo: VCG

Rising water from the Dongguanshui River caused by continuous rainfall floods a village in Qingyuan, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 21, 2024. Photo: VCG

China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has raised the flood emergency response warning for South China's Guangdong Province from level-IV to level-III with heavy rainfalls are forecasted to continue in the region, leading to rising water levels in several rivers including the Beijiang River in the Pearl River basin, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) announced on Sunday. 

Since April 16, heavy rainfalls have been occurring throughout the Pearl River basin, causing 44 rivers to reach flood levels exceeding official warnings. The exceedance ranges from 0.01 to 7.04 meters, the Pearl River Water Resources Commission under the Ministry of Water Resources said on Sunday. 

At 8:45 pm on Saturday, the water flow of Beijiang River at the Shijiao hydrological station rose to 12,000 cubic meters per second, experiencing its second flood event of the year, according to the water resources ministry. 

The Beijiang River basin is expected to experience a once-in-a-century flood, according to media reports. 

The first flood of the river in 2024 occurred on April 8, marking the earliest occurrence since flood records for major Chinese rivers began in 1998, according to the Guangdong local water resources authorities.

The Pearl River water resources authorities raised the flood control emergency response to level II on Sunday, as the water level of Beijiang River will continue to rise and potentially lead to a major flood. China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level I representing the most severe response.

As of Saturday, the cumulative rainfall in many regions in Guangdong has broken the historical record for rainfall in April, according to Guangdong water resources authorities.

The MEM said that the technical equipment has been deployed to assist efforts relating to the Beijiang River embankment in Guangdong to prevent risk heightened. Also, the working groups have been sent to assist and guide flood control and disaster relief efforts in key areas such as Shaoguan and Qingyuan in Guangdong.

China's National Meteorological Center issued an orange alert for rainstorms on Sunday as heavy downpours are expected to lash multiple regions including Guangdong. China has a four-tier weather warning system, with red being the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

The China Railway Guangzhou Group said that operations of some of its trains passing through the region would be suspended or adjusted temporarily on Sunday, such as some train services on the Beijing-Guangzhou and the Beijing-Kowloon railways.

Multiple regions in Guangdong have continuously deepened the deployment of anti-flood measures, stressing the need to strengthen efforts in key areas and prevent the occurrence of secondary disasters such as landslides caused by flooding.

Some districts in Qingyuan on Sunday announced to suspend classes for primary, secondary schools, and kindergartens. The local maritime department also closed navigation services due to the impact of the heavy rainfalls, according to the authorities.

An official from the Qingyuan local emergency department told the Global Times on Sunday that they have opened a 24-hour hotline for the public to report disaster and danger information to ensure that emergency response can be carried out immediately.

In Shaoguan, multiple cultural and sports venues have been closed since Saturday, as the region has been experiencing continuous heavy rain to torrential rain, with an average rainfall of 231.4 millimeters throughout the city, according to authorities.

A local resident surnamed Yao told the Global Times on Sunday that in some regions of Shaoguan, vehicles have been submerged by floodwaters, and electricity was cut off. 

"Luckily, my community is located in a relatively higher region, which hasn't been impacted too much," Yao said. Yao noted that the rain has stopped on Sunday morning, but the heavy rain in the past two days has caused severe urban flooding.

As of 8 pm on Saturday, some 96,000 families in Shaoguan experienced power outages caused by heavy rainfall. Nearly half of those affected have had their power restored, while the Shaoguan power supply bureau is continuing to repair the remaining areas without power, according to the local authorities on Sunday.