Severe Floods Hit Chongqing as Flooding Across Southern China Leaves 121 People Dead or Missing

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
July 3, 2020Updated: July 5, 2020

The southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing is the latest area to be hit by flooding, as southern parts of the country battle with the worst flooding it has seen in decades.

Weeks of heavy rainfall have wreaked destruction across 26 provinces, affecting more than 19 million residents. At least 121 people have been confirmed dead or missing, authorities say.

Chongqing has been lashed by intense rains since July 1, affecting 28 of its 38 counties, according to a July 2 report by state-run People’s Daily. The highest rainfall reached 128 millimeters (5 inches) that day.

Waters in 116 local rivers rose one to ten meters (3.3 feet to 32.8 feet). State-run media Xinhua quoted Chongqing city officials on July 2 saying that the water levels of 12 rivers were higher than the upper limits, meaning the banks could burst at any time.

At least one person has died, and one is missing, the report said, adding that almost 60,000 have been affected by the floods in the city.

Local authorities in one area of Chongqing have warned those who live on the fourth story or below in buildings close to rivers to be prepared to evacuate.

“The Chongqing Hydrology Bureau told us that the flooding this year is very bad,” an official from the Shanhuwan neighborhood in Chongqing told the Chinese-language Epoch Times by phone on July 2.  The official said intense rains have been forecasted for the entire month in Chongqing.

“Residents who live on the fourth floor and lower should start preparing for evacuation, so once flooding starts, they can quickly escape.”

The official said if the water level in Shanhuwan reaches 180 meters (590 feet) above sea level, it will submerge the first floor; at 190 meters (623 feet), it will flood areas higher than the second floor, so the third and fourth floors also need to be on guard.

Two rivers pass through Chongqing, the Yangtze River and the Jialing River. In 1981, when water levels of both rivers reached 193 meters (633 feet), 15 million people were affected, and 1.5 million lost their homes.

Mr. Liu, a resident in Qijiang district in Chongqing, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times on July 2 that the downtown area in the district flooded the day before, and the water levels of the Qijiang River swelled by three meters (10 feet).

“The first floors of many buildings were submerged by floodwaters,” he said.

Mudslide Buries Highway

A surveillance camera caught the moment a mudslide buried a highway in Chongqing on July 1.

The Epoch Times called the Chongqing Highway Service Center on July 2, and was told that the highway has now been closed.

“Both directions were buried,” the operator said. “The mudslide was very severe.”

On July 2, other provinces in southern China including Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui also reported flooding.

The same day, the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources announced, “As of noon of July 1, the water levels of 304 rivers in China have exceeded critical limits.”

The ministry said July and August are critical periods to control the flooding.