Millions Hit by Severe Flooding in China's Sichuan, Gansu Provinces

Local authorities issue top-level emergency warnings as the mountainous region is threatened by flooding and landslides.

A bridge destroyed by floods in southwestern China's Sichuan province, July 2018.

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have declared a state of emergency after a mountainous region was hit by floods and landslides following days of torrential rain.

Thousands of travelers were left stranded after landslides and floods blocked major highways and the severe weather affected flights at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, where 34 flights were delayed and seven canceled on Thursday.

The provincial flood control agency has issued a red alert for landslides and other "geological disasters," and a top-level emergency response for flooding in the region, official media reported.

Water levels on a number of major rivers in the region, including the Dadu, Fujiang, Minjiang, and Tuojiang have risen over the warning line, while flooding in the provincial capital Chengdu disrupted traffic this week.

Some 900,000 local residents have been affected, with more than 100,000 forced to evacuate from their flooded homes in Santai, Beichuan, and Pingwu counties, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Meanwhile, 12 people have died in the far western province of Gansu, where authorities evacuated some 27,000 people after the region was also hit by floods and rainstorms.

"More than 1,200 houses fell, and total direct economic losses reached 1.47 billion yuan," Xinhua said, adding that the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing had sent rescue teams to the stricken regions to "guide relief efforts."

A resident of Sichuan's Mianyang city who gave only his surnamed Zhou said many homes in the area had been damaged in the storms.

"The impact on agriculture around Mianyang has been enormous," Zhou said. "Farms, agricultural equipment and homes have all been flooded."

"We haven't seen flooding this severe for 50, maybe even 100 years," he said.

Calls to the Mianyang mayoral hotline rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday, however.

Worst floods in decades

A Chengdu resident surnamed Zhang said a number of districts in the city are also under water in the wake of the storms, which have been the worst since 1981.

"The Mianfu and the Nanhe rivers are both brimming, and the footpaths on either side are under water," he said. "Some cars have been engulfed by flooding under the bridge on the third ring road."

"The water is halfway up the main doors of the farmers' market in Shibantan township in Xindu district," Zhang said. "Shibantan hasn't been under water like this since the floods of 1981. The floods came last week and they've been there for several days now, topped up by this week's rainstorms."

He said more storms were forecast on Friday, and that there were rumors that the region — which was devastated in the 2008 earthquake — could be hit with another tremor.

Residents of Sichuan's Shifang and Deyang counties said they had been particularly hard-hit by the floods after local authorities failed to deliver on a post-quake reconstruction plan, leaving them with shoddily constructed buildings dating back to the 1980s.

Local people are worried that as the rains keep coming and the waters keep rising, that there is a growing threat to human health and safety, sources told RFA.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.