China floods: bus falls into river as heavy rains destroy homes

China floods: bus falls into river as heavy rains destroy homes

A bus has fallen into a river in northern China, leaving at least three people dead and 11 others missing after flooding from heavy rains destroyed homes and covered farmland in two provinces.

Video posted online showed people on top of an almost submerged bus in a rushing river flowing over a nearby bridge outside the city of Shijiazhuang, about 165 miles (265km) south-west of Beijing.

Authorities in Hebei province said in a social media post that 37 of the 51 people on the bus had been rescued. The state broadcaster CCTV said three had died and 11 were missing.

In neighbouring Shanxi province to the west, flooding has forced more than 120,000 people to leave their homes, destroyed 17,000 homes, forced the suspension of operations of hundreds of mines and damaged 190,000 hectares (470,000 acres) of farmland.

About 1.75 million people have been affected in total in Shanxi by floods caused by heavy rainfall that reached levels almost four times the usual monthly average.

Villages were inundated by water, trapping residents and causing the collapse of some dams, China Global Television Network reported. Aerial footage showed railway bridges washed away, leaving tracks hovering in the air, and sections of an ancient wall around the Unesco-listed ancient city of Pingyao were also eroded.

Details on casualties or injuries have not been released. The Global Times reported last week that four police officers had died in a landslide on Tuesday.

Among the more than 400 suspended mining operations, 60 were coal-producing. China is experiencing crippling electricity shortages, reportedly caused by coal shortages and record high prices, which have prompted authorities to order increased coal production elsewhere in the country.

According to state media, 59 national meteorological stations reported the highest ever recorded daily rainfall, and 63 their highest accumulative total over the period. The Fen River reached its highest level in four years, they said.

Torrential rains fell for several days last week across the province. In 12 hours overnight to Thursday morning, Shanxi, which ordinarily has an average of 31.3mm for the month, had an average 119.5mm across the province. Eighteen counties recorded more than 200mm, with a maximum of 285.2mm.

Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi, recorded rainfall of 185mm, about seven times the pre-2010 average for October. More rain and colder weather were expected, the state news agency Xinhua said on Sunday.

Hao Nan, the head of a disaster information service centre, told the Global Times the scope of the flooding was worse than the disastrous rains that hit Henan earlier this year, but the impact had not been as bad. Hao’s primary concern for Shanxi was the accompanying cold weather, the report said.

More than 300 people died in Henan in July when record-breaking rainstorms hit the province, overflowing reservoirs, breaching riverbanks, and overwhelming public transport systems and roads in many cities.

The majority of deaths occurred in the capital city, Zhengzhou, where more than 600mm of rain, equivalent almost to an average year, fell in just three days. About 40 people died in underground carparks, while at least 20 others died in a flooded road tunnel and metro station.