While here in the United States we were celebrating this past 4th of July Independence Day weekend with fireworks, barbeques, and overall joyous festivities, halfway around the world in China people were mourning the deaths of almost 130 people.
This past week, severe floods rained down on central and southern China, leaving a destructive trail in its wake. The heavy rainfall not only killed 128 people, but took down with it crops, farm animals, and people’s homes.
More than 1.9 million hectares (4.7m acres) of crops were damaged, and roughly 1.3 million Chinese people have been forced from their homes.
The catastrophic event left – and continues to do so – people’s livelihoods at stake. Chinese state media announced Tuesday that the floods led to direct economic losses of more than 38 billion yuan. That is a whopping 5.7 billion US dollars.
Xinhua news reported that the floods stretched across eleven provinces and regions, and in addition to the 128 fatalities, 42 people are still missing.
According to Xinhua, more than 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of cropland had been damaged, and another 295,000 hectares completely obliterated.
Some 40,000 buildings collapsed, it added.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang traveled Tuesday to Anhui, one of the hardest-hit provinces that fell victim to the torrential rain. There, Mr. Li met with locals as well as encouraged officials to do everything they possibly could to protect their people’s lives and livelihoods.
The central-eastern region saw massive losses to its farm animals as well: 7,100 hogs, 250 bulls, and 5.14 million fowl were killed, China News Service said.
In another province that was subjected to the cataclysmic effects of the floods, the southern province of Hunan was forced to stop or construct detours for more than 100 trains since midnight on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
Premier Li is also set to make a visit to Hunan.
On Monday, in another city, approximately three tons of gasoline and diesel leaked from a petrol station, in turn contaminating floodwater that flowed into a river.
Chen Guiya, an official with the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, is quoted by Xinhua as saying the waters in 43 rivers in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River had gone past warning levels and patrols were monitoring dykes.
This early in the aftermath, it is unclear just how much the floods’ destruction will affect the summer harvest grain, which was expected to reach 140 million tons this year.