Floods across large swaths of central and eastern China have left more than 140 people dead, affecting 38 million others and destroying 28,000 homes, according to government tallies.
It is the worst floods in China in more than 30 years, as regions across the country brace for another “grim” week of torrential rain.
The coronavirus ground zero of Wuhan, through which the powerful Yangtze River winds, is on an expanding list of areas warily watching the rising waters.
The river hit its third-highest levels and is projected to increase through the week, according to state-controlled media.
As many as 33 rivers have reached record highs, while alerts have been issued on a total of 433 rivers, officials from the Chinese water resources ministry said.
The worst-hit provinces were Jiangxi, Hubei and Hunan in central China, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu in the country’s east, and the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, authorities said.
Amid growing alarm, President Xi Jinping on Sunday called on authorities in affected areas to mobilise to help stricken residents, urging them to be “courageous”.
China’s worst floods in recent decades came in 1998 during an El Nino weather effect, killing more than 4,000 people, mostly around the Yangtze.