Catastrophic floods threaten Southern China: A century’s worst deluge looms

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Southern China is on high alert as unprecedented rainfall threatens to unleash floods described as the worst in a century across the region. Since last Thursday, relentless downpours have battered Guangdong province, causing rivers such as those in the crucial Pearl River Delta—a key manufacturing hub—to dangerously swell. Chinese state media, including CCTV, have aired dramatic aerial footage showing murky floodwaters approaching street levels, engulfing low-lying buildings and isolating a historic pagoda within a watery siege.

The national meteorological agency has extended weather advisories across central Guangdong, signaling severe storms and potential catastrophic flooding through Monday evening. According to reports from CCTV, citing the provincial hydrology bureau, certain locales within the Bei River basin are bracing for floods that could reach heights up to 5.8 meters (19 feet) above warning levels—a phenomenon expected once every hundred years. Moreover, other regions within Guangdong are preparing for 50-year floods, anticipating significant disruptions.

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Despite the severity of the impending disaster, there have been no immediate reports of casualties or mass evacuations. However, the densely populated Pearl River Delta, home to about 127 million residents in Guangdong alone, is especially vulnerable. Authorities have launched a level-three emergency response to mitigate the disaster’s impact, the second lowest in China’s four-tier system.

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This crisis is part of a broader pattern of extreme weather that China has been grappling with in recent years, including severe floods, prolonged droughts, and record-breaking heatwaves. Experts attribute the increasing frequency and severity of these events to climate change, exacerbated by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. China, as the world’s largest emitter, faces particular scrutiny and challenges in managing these environmental crises.

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The unfolding situation in southern China is a stark reminder of the urgent need for robust climate action and infrastructure resilience. With climate change intensifying the frequency and severity of weather-related disasters, regions like Guangdong must enhance their preparedness and response strategies to safeguard populations and preserve economic stability.

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