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29 dead, 16 missing after severe floods in China’s Hebei

The death toll from floods in northern China’s Hebei province has risen to 29, state media reported Friday, after record-breaking rains pummelled the region in recent weeks.

“As of August 10, 29 people have died due to disasters in Hebei Province, of which six were previously missing. There are still 16 missing,” state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing authorities.

Rescue efforts were still ongoing to find those missing, CCTV said.

At least 33 people died in Beijing as a result of a severe rainstorm and floods that struck in late July, including two rescue workers, authorities said earlier this week, AFP reports.

And more than a dozen people were killed in northeastern Jilin province after torrential rain last week.

Streets in parts of Hebei, which borders the capital, were still caked in mud when AFP visited on Wednesday.

Residents were scrambling to recover waterlogged belongings and clean up damaged homes.

Millions of people have been hit by extreme weather events and prolonged heatwaves around the globe in recent weeks, events scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

Beijing’s ‘moat’

During a visit to affected communities last week, Hebei province party chief Ni Yuefeng said that the area could “reduce the pressure on Beijing’s flood control” and serve as a “moat” for the capital.

China’s state media has hailed the government’s efforts to mitigate damage from the inundations, with coverage focused on tales of mutual aid and selfless officials working tirelessly on rescue efforts.

But a week after the waters first swelled, some villagers told AFP they did not receive adequate warning from the authorities about when the floods would come.

The Chinese government on Wednesday said it would allocate one billion yuan ($139 million) to compensate residents in areas that had been inundated to control flood levels in downstream areas.

The fund would pay for “damage to crops, animal and poultry farms, commercial forests, houses and agricultural machinery”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Insurance providers in Beijing are paying out at least 380 million yuan in claims for losses caused by the recent rains, according to Xinhua.

Heavy rains are expected again over the weekend as tropical depression Khanun — formerly a typhoon — approaches China, with meteorologists warning of flood risks in mountainous areas of southwest China, including Sichuan province.

At least seven people died in a flash flood southwest of Sichuan’s capital Chengdu earlier this week, after an unexpected tide of water washed away a number of tourists on the Longxi River.