Thousands of residents in Chongqing in China’s southwest have been evacuated and riverside shops and scenic spots closed, as the megacity braces for its biggest flood in 40 years.
For the first time, authorities have issued a level-one flood emergency response, the highest alert in a four-tier scale.
The flood, the fifth on the Yangtze River this year, hit the city on Thursday and arrived at the same time as the second wave from the Jialing River – a tributary that joins the Yangtze in Chongqing – passed through.
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Chongqing on Thursday morning to assess conditions, visiting the village of Shuangba in Tongnan district, where flooded fields and houses have affected the livelihood of more than 8,000 people there.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was also in Anhui province in the country’s east on Tuesday. He visited Wangjiaba Dam on the Huai River and other flood-hit areas in Fuyang, according to the State Council.
Several parts of Chongqing, including the historic town of Ciqikou, are already under water. Many shop owners in the town moved their stock to higher floors after being urged to close their businesses from Tuesday.
Several areas along Nanbin Road in Nanan district were flooded, with water rushing into the main halls of a Hilton Hotel, according to footage on Pear Video.
Attempts to contact the hotel were unsuccessful.
The footage showed the riverside promenade completely submerged, with only tree canopies above water. More than 2,000 officials and volunteers had been stationed by the riverside and 977 residents in the area were evacuated.
Another Pear video showed an inner city train running just above floodwater.
On Monday, the Ministry of Water Resources issued notices urging local authorities to be on alert, particularly along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the middle reaches of the Yellow, Hai, Songhua and Liao rivers.
The country’s southwest has been ordered to be on alert for landslides and mudslides.
In all, 219 people have died or are missing in this year’s floods, and more than 63 million residents have been affected.
Chongqing emergency management official Wang Shiping said the city was facing record floods despite not having had heavy rain in the past few days, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Much of the water was coming from upstream, where there had been major downpours, Wang said.
Neighbouring Sichuan province also upgraded its emergency response from level four to level one, Wang said.
Thursday’s Yangtze flood came just two days after the fourth wave of flooding had subsided.
Wang said the water level had not yet fallen to below the alert level, before it rose again.
More than three-quarters of Chongqing is built on hillside and over 550 rivers and tributaries feed into the municipality, according to Xinhua. At the same time, Chongqing has a subtropical monsoon climate, with 60 per cent to 85 per cent of its rain falling during the flood season.
This article Chinese megacity Chongqing braces for record flood first appeared on South China Morning Post