China flash floods: 16 dead and 36 missing in Qinghai province

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Sixteen people are dead and 36 others missing after a flash flood hit Qinghai province in western China amid the ongoing torrential rains, according to Chinese media reports.

Heavy and sudden downpours in Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County of Qinghai province started late on Wednesday, causing flooding in the mountains and triggering landslides, according to China‘s state broadcaster CCTV.

The flash floods affected an area with more than 6,000 people and over 1,500 houses, CCTV said.

The local government has sent a rescue team of 2,000 people and more than 160 vehicles for disaster relief. Two people reported missing earlier have been found and the search for others is on, the state media said in an online report.

Emergency authorities described the situation as a “mountain torrent” disaster, which results from heavy squalls in mountainous areas. Water running down the mountain can turn streams into raging rivers, catching people by surprise.

China has been hit with a series of climate crisis-induced extreme weather events with heavy rains leading to flooding of historic scale in some areas along with heatwaves and droughts in others.

Severe flooding in several regions in China over the last few weeks has displaced almost half a million people and caused damages of $250 million damages. The situation has been described as the worst since record-keeping started 60 years ago.

The government has solely blamed the climate crisis for the back-to-back extreme weather events. The IPCC reports in recent years have included China among the countries that can be hardest hit by global warming.

Surface air temperature has increased in the past century all over Asia, causing stronger, more frequent, and longer heatwaves.

The warming temperatures also lead to drought and can affect the pattern of rainfall. Like China, several regions in Asia are suffering through different extremities with floods and droughts becoming more frequent.

Last week, seven people were reported dead in a similar mountain torrent in southwestern China‘s Sichuan province.

The ongoing heat, drought and flooding situation has heavily impacted the agriculture and electricity supply in the country with many regions facing longer power cuts and several factories shut down.

Additional reporting by agencies