Heavy rains in south and west China are causing floods, death and devastation from Sichuan to Hubei. Over the past week in Yunnan torrential downpours have been blamed for hundreds of millions of yuan in damages and dozens of fatalities.
The Yunnan Department of Water Resources has confirmed at least 31 people in the province have been killed in flash floods, landslides and rain-related accidents. Two people are still missing. Nearly every major city and county in Yunnan has reported damages from flooding in the past seven days.
Government reports indicate that almost one million people have been directly affected by rains and accompanying floods. Many of those impacted by torrential downpours have seen their farmland washed away in floods or buried by mudslides. Some 480,000 others are suffering from a lack of potable drinking water.
Of the 31 reported deaths, eight of them occurred in Xishuangbanna when a bus drove off the road and down a forested mountainside. The accident is being attributed to the bus hydroplaning on rain-soaked asphalt. Several passengers were rescued after the wreck and 19 were transported to a nearby hospital with injuries.
Weather stations in 35 areas across Yunnan have reported June and July rainfall levels above historical averages. Areas of Baoshan (保山), in the province's far west, have received the most rain of anywhere in Yunnan. In the month of June alone, the village of Longling (龙陵) in Baoshan has seen more than 300 millimeters of rain.
Storms generating this much precipitation are both a blessing and a curse in Yunnan. Despite serious flooding and its attendant difficulties, provincial water management authorities are hopeful recent rains will help to replenish water tables and reservoirs.
Both natural and manmade water storage facilities have repeatedly been drained during the province's four-year drought. Officials have expressed hope reservoirs will hold a total of 7.6 billion cubic meters of useable water by the end of this year's rainy season. That figure is equivalent to the yearly freshwater use for the country of Cuba.
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