In recent weeks, heavy rainfall has triggered severe flooding and landslides in large swathes of southern China, damaging homes, crops and roads.
In Hunan province, 10 people have been killed this month and three remain missing, with 286,000 people evacuated and a total of 1.79 million residents affected, officials said at a news conference Wednesday.
More than 2,700 houses have collapsed or suffered severe damage, and 96,160 hectares of crops have been destroyed — heavy losses for a province that serves as a major rice-producing hub for China. Direct economic losses are estimated at more than 4 billion yuan ($600 million), according to officials.
Late last month, flooding and landslides killed eight people in coastal Fujian province, five people in southwestern Yunnan province, and two children who were swept away by torrents in Guangxi province.
Summer floods are a regular occurrence in China, especially in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries. But scientists have been warning for years that the climate crisis would amplify extreme weather, making it deadlier and more frequent.
Global warming has already made extreme rainfall events more intense in the eastern Asian region, which includes southern China. The intensity and frequency of extreme rain events are expected to rise the more the Earth warms, the latest science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows. The number of strong tropical cyclones have also increased.
The tragedy gripped the nation, raising questions over how prepared Chinese cities are for extreme weather.