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Massive Floods Force Tens of Thousands to Evacuate in China’s Guangdong Region

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Nearly 60,000 residents in China’s Guangdong province have been evacuated from their homes after extreme weather caused floods to sweep through a number of cities in the low-lying Pearl River Delta.

On Monday, rescuers used boats to reach trapped residents, including the elderly, in China's most populous province, a manufacturing hub home to 127 million people. Since Thursday, Guangdong has been hit with heavy, persistent rainfall and storms, giving way to floods earlier than the expected summer flooding season. 

Several major rivers have burst their banks, while waterways and reservoirs are overflowing. Authorities have said water levels are "dangerously high." They also issued a warning on Monday morning that water levels in Guangdong could hit a "once in 100 years" high.

Among the cities most affected are the provincial capital Guangzhou, as well as Shaoguan and Heyuan. A 12-hour downpour on Saturday also hit the northern cities of Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, and Qingyuan. The damage to homes across the province has resulted in an estimated economic loss of around $19.4 million so far, Reuters reported.

At least three people have died as a result of the natural disaster, while 11 people are missing, BBC reported citing state media. Across the region, over 1 million households lost electricity over the weekend but 80% of households had their power restored by Sunday, according to the news outlet. 

Guangdong officials have encouraged all localities to engage in emergency planning and allocate relief funds and resources to those who will need housing, water, and food. While rains eased on Monday, China's meteorological experts anticipate that Guangdong’s heavy rains will continue until at least Tuesday. It is also expected to continue in coastal areas of neighboring Fujian, with "moderate to heavy" rains in other parts of the country, including Beijing, Tianjin, and Heibei.

In June 2022, Guangdong experienced its heaviest rainfall in six decades, giving rise to floods and landslides that affected almost half a million people. 

"We're worried the floods could be worse than two years ago," Song Xiaowei, a factory worker in Qingyuan, a small city north of Guangzhou, told Reuters. "I've friends in Jintan town who have already removed their furniture. The village opposite that has been submerged to the first floor."

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com