Beijing, July 8 (efe-epa).- At least nine people were feared buried in a landslide on Wednesday triggered by heavy rains in the central Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the first known outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to authorities, the disaster struck Huangmei county around 4 am, prompting a search and rescue operation to locate the nine people missing.
So far, no deaths have been confirmed, but troops from the emergency units have moved to the area and are working to try to rescue survivors, the authorities said.
Over 40 residents of the village of Dahe, where the landslide occurred, were rescued to safer places.
The torrential rains have caused widespread flooding across the country. Up to 353 millimeters of rain was recorded in Huangmei.
National authorities on Tuesday raised the alert level from the lowest 4 to 3 for flood control. Rescue teams have already been sent to regions like Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, or Jiangxi.
Water levels in various rivers and lakes in some of the affected areas have already exceeded the safety marks.
Heavy rains and flooding in the central parts of the country have affected almost 20 million people, according to statistics from the Ministry of Emergency Management.
The ministry in a report published earlier this week said natural disasters that have struck China during the first half of 2020 have left at least 119 people dead or missing in floods across the country.
The ministry has, however, published no update about any possible human losses due to the latest floods.
The authorities said some areas of the country have recorded between 30 and 50 percent more than average rainfall.
Weather officials forecast that the risks of more severe floods during the next two months is “relatively high.”
Some 875,000 people have been evacuated, according to the Ministry’s most recent figures published on July 3, with some 355,000 requiring “urgent” help.
Around 218,000 homes have been damaged and 17,000 have collapsed, while some 16,000 hectares of farmland have been lost.
The economic damage is estimated around 41.6 billion yuan ($5.9 billion), an unwelcome dent to the country that is still far from fully recovering from the severe financial crisis that was triggered by the Covid-19 shutdowns. EFE-EPA