New Delhi: In one of the worst rainfall in over 1,000 years in China, around 25 people, including 12 subway passengers have been killed so far. According to officials Zhengzhou recorded 617.1 mm rainfall from Saturday to Tuesday, nearly the same as the annual average rainfall in the city (640.8 mm).
Several images and videos from China have flooded the social media showing the horrific state of affairs in the country which looks no less than a scene of an apocalyptic movie as residents wade through floodwaters amid heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, Henan province, China.
As water levels in 53 rivers breached the historic highs during summer last year, authorities raised alarm saying three Gorges Dam have witnessed the largest flood peak since the operation began in 2003. Flood situation is quite common in the country. According to state-run media, a total of 1.24 million people were affected by the flooding and as many as 1,60,000 were evacuated.
What are the reasons behind the China’s deteriorating flood situation?
Weakening dam network: Beijing has a massive dam network in order to tackle the annual floods, but in recent years the situation has worsened as hundreds of lives were lost leaving thousands of homes submerged.
It has relied on relied on dams, levees and reservoirs to control the flow of water. Around 30 billion cubic metres of floodwater were diverted last year by dams and reservoirs in Asia’s longest river, the Yangtze in an attempt to tackle flooding downstream in areas including Shanghai.
However, the country’s vast water management schemes has failed to to contain all the flooding raising doubts about the endurance of dams built decades ago.
On Tuesday, the Army warned a damaged dam in Henan province “could collapse at any time” after a record downpour. Troops blasted an opening in the dam to release water and raced to reinforce other embankments with sandbags across the province.
Similarly, last year in eastern Anhui province two dams were blown up to release water from the rising Chuhe river over cropland.
Typhoon In-Fa: According to the South China Morning Post the incoming Typhoon In-Fa is seem to be reason behind the heavy downpour. The typhoon, along with the air currents, has carried atmospheric water, concentrating at the Zhengzhou city, which is surrounded by the Taihang and Funiu mountains.
Li Shuo, a climate analyst for Greenpeace East Asia, said the floods “ring an alarm bell for China that climate change is here,” according to news agency AFP. While Benjamin Horton, director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore observed that as a result of global warming, the Earth’s atmosphere holds more moisture causing heavier downpours.
The burden on China’s dams is likely to grow as climate change makes extreme weather events more common.