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Residents trapped by floods in China’s Guangdong after heavy rains batter region

Residents of Guangdong’s Yingde city have been taking refuge from widespread flooding on upper floors and roofs, amid an ongoing shortage of relief supplies after heavy rainstorms battered the region.

Photos posted to social media showed parts of Yingde under water up to the second floor of buildings, amid unconfirmed reports of deaths and building collapses.

Government departments in Yingde, Guangdong province, were ordered on Thursday to maintain high vigilance against geological and natural disasters after the flood crest of the Beijiang River passed the city.

“The flood crest of the Beijiang has passed the city, but it remains at a high level and the flow is still large, threatening the lives and property of local residents,” the Yingde government said in a statement reported by the English-language China Daily newspaper.

Water in the Beijiang, a tributary of the Pearl River, began receding slowly after the flood crest passed at 2.00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, it said.

The river, which runs through the city’s downtown area, was measured at nearly 10 meters above the danger line at its peak, the statement said.

City authorities warned of possible landslides, mountain torrents, reservoir and river dike failures and building collapses as waters recede, the paper said.

The floods came as parts of southern China faced the heaviest rainfall in more than 60 years, with large swathes of flooded areas suffering power outages, contaminated water supplies and relief supplies, with some people posted pleas for help on social media.

Trapped by high water

A resident of Yingde’s Xiniu township told RFA that they are currently trapped inside a two-story building with a roof dwelling alongside five other people.

“The floodwaters are retreating now, but very slowly,” the person said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to last out until tomorrow now … when the waters should have gone down.”

A resident of Yingde’s Wangbu township said she is currently trapped in a building with more than a dozen people, all elderly, women and children.

“It’s been three or four days now, and nobody came yesterday,” the resident said. “They delivered a small piece of bread and bottle of water for residents this afternoon, and not until after 4.00 p.m.”

“That was the only thing they delivered, so I didn’t eat anything until then, and only one meal isn’t enough,” she said. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”

While waters had begun to recede, she still couldn’t get out as they remained high.

“I can’t go out now; I’ve been flooded all the way up to the second floor,” she said. “I can’t talk any more because my phone is nearly out of battery.”

Repeated calls to helplines and contact numbers provided by the Yingde authorities went unconnected on Wednesday.

Fears for the elderly

Some people posted on social media saying that they had lost contact with elderly grandparents, while a 90-year-old man was stranded at home in need of oxygen.

The flooding of Yingde came after authorities in upstream Shaoguan opened local floodgates on June 20, after days of heavy flooding there, inundated Yingde and other downstream areas.

Shaoguan, one of the worst-hit cities in the current round of flooding, has seen record rainfall since late May.

A video clip uploaded to social media showed a firetruck being washed away by a flash flood, although they were later rescued around one kilometer from where the video was shot.

China’s ministry of water resources said that 99 rivers in the middle lower reaches of the Xi river in the Pearl river basin had water levels above the danger level between 12.00 noon on June 21 and noon on June 22.

The Guangdong provincial flood control headquarters raised the emergency response level to the highest level on the evening of June 21, while authorities have evacuated more than 227,000 people within the province, with floods affecting nearly half a million people and causing economic losses of around 1.7 billion yuan.

Flooding has also been reported in the southwestern region of Guangxi, Guizhou and other provinces, with five people killed and buildings destroyed by flash floods in Guangxi’s Liuzhou city on June 18.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.