16 dead, 18 missing in flash flooding in western China

BEIJING — A sudden rainstorm in western China triggered a landslide that diverted a river and caused flash flooding in populated areas, killing at least 16 people and leaving 18 others missing, Chinese state media said Thursday.

Rescue workers, who previously reported 36 missing persons, had found 18 of them by early afternoon, state broadcaster CCTV reports in an online update. Wednesday night’s disaster affected more than 6,000 people in six villages in Qinghai province, CCTV said.

China is facing heavy rainfall and flooding in some parts of the country this summer and extreme heat and drought in other regions. State media have described the prolonged heat and drought as the worst since record keeping 60 years ago.

Emergency services described the flash flooding in Datong province in Qinghai as a “mountain stream”. Such flash floods are usually the result of heavy showers in mountainous areas. Water flowing down from the mountain can turn gullies or streams into raging rivers, taking people by surprise.

Video posted by the Beijing News website showed muddy water flowing overnight through a wide street and rubble-strewn areas with uprooted trees, partially washed away roads and overturned cars after the water receded.

Seven people died last weekend in a mountain stream in southwestern China’s Sichuan province.

Elsewhere in Sichuan and other provinces, crops are wilting and factories have been shut down as a drought reduced hydroelectric power and high temperatures increased the demand for electricity for air conditioners.

Tesla Ltd. and SAIC, one of China’s largest state-owned automakers, has halted production at factories in Shanghai due to a lack of parts from 16 suppliers in Sichuan that had to close their doors, the Shanghai Economic and Information Industry Committee said in a letter released Thursday. .

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The Shanghai commission called on its counterpart in Sichuan to ensure that auto parts factories have enough power during the day to avoid supply disruptions.

Authorities in three provinces have fired rockets into the sky in recent days to “seed” clouds with agents to try to get them to produce more rain, according to Chinese media and government reports.

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