These images show the destruction caused by recent torrential rains in southern China’s province of Hunan.

The monsoon rains have been particularly active over eastern China this year. According to a spokesperson for the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, the rains this summer have killed 237 people and caused at least $22bn of damage.

Weather Underground has calculated that this makes the 2016 floods China’s second most expensive weather-related natural disaster in history. Flooding in 1998 proved more costly, causing $44bn worth of damage.

It is not a surprise that this year’s rains have been more active than usual. The warming of the Pacific Ocean, known as El Nino, is weakening and this often triggers an intense monsoon season.

The recent El Nino was one of the strongest on record, rivalled only by the El Nino of 1997-1998. This explains why 1998 was also such a destructive year for the monsoon rains over China.

The monsoon rain will continue across eastern Asia until October, so between now and then there is likely to be more torrential rain triggering more flooding and landslides.

As the world’s climate continues to warm, this will cause more water vapour in the atmosphere. That could well lead to heavier monsoon rains in future years, and an increasing problem for China. 

Watch the footage above

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies