Highway collapses from torrential rain in China killing 24 people

Highway collapses from torrential rain in China killing 24 people

At least 24 people died in China on Wednesday after a highway collapsed from torrential rain.

Eighteen cars fell from a slope after a 17.9m long section of the highway in the Guangdong province from the damage to the road, reported official Xinhua News agency. Another 30 people were injured in the incident that occurred around 2am.

The lives of the injured were “not currently at risk”, reported state broadcaster CCTV, adding that they were receiving emergency care at a hospital. The authorities dispatched about 500 officials to the site to offer assistance, reported the outlet.

Witnesses told local media they heard a loud noise and saw a hole open up several meters wide behind them after driving past the section of the road just before it collapsed. A pile of blackened cars could also be seen on the slope leading down from the carriageway.

Video and photos in local media showed smoke and fire at the scene, with highway rails slanting downward into the flames. Blackened cars could also be seen on the slope leading down from the highway.

The southern region has been seeing heavy rains for the past few weeks, with authorities relocating around 110,000 locals after due to damage to the local infrastructure from the downpour, leading to floods and landslides, reported Bloomberg.

In Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, the government said last week that the city had logged a cumulative rainfall of 60.9cm in April, the highest monthly rainfall since record-keeping began in 1959.

People scrambled to save their homes and belongings from floodwaters after it briefly stopped raining last Wednesday. Locals were seen wading through knee-deep water, retrieving whatever belongings they could from their damaged properties.

Buses and helicopters ferried to safety all the residents of the township of Jiangwan in the Shaoguan region as a new round of floods arrived, the reports said, citing local authorities.

“I have never seen such heavy rain in my life, nor have people older than me,” said Jiang, a 72-year-old resident who gave only his surname, according to state-run China Daily.

Power lines were downed and mobile telephone networks disrupted across the region, as the rains set off dangerous mudslides, inundated homes and destroyed bridges.

Such extreme flooding is rare for Guangdong in April. A high-ranking official connected it to the deteriorating climate crisis, which increases rainfall as hotter climate holds more moisture.

Asia was the most disaster-prone region in the world last year, rocked by dozens of floods, storms and other climate-related calamaties, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

Some 79 disasters linked to hydro-meteorological events were reported in Asia in 2023, the WMO said in a report published last week. Over 80 per cent of these were floods and storms that caused more than 2,000 deaths.

Additional reporting by agencies