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People’s Republic of China: Sichuan Flood - Information bulletin (20 August 2020)

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The situation

Torrential rain hit Sichuan province in southwest China since 11 August 2020. According to the initial assessment conducted by the government, 3,419,000 people have been affected by the floods in the province. The Chinese governments at different levels responded immediately to the floods affected area, dispatched rescue teams to evacuate people in the affected areas. As of 16 August, more than 60,000 residents were evacuated because of the heavy rain. RCSC and IFRC Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) Beijing office have been closely monitoring the situation in Sichuan and coordinating with the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM), the Chengdu provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters, Changjiang Water Resources Commission (CWRC) and Sichuan Climate Center to have continuous flow of information and the detail about the needs in the field. RCSC NHQ allocated emergency relief materials worth of 1.7 million yuan to RCSC Sichuan Branch and the China Red Cross Foundation allocated relief materials worth of 150,000 yuan. RCSC branches in Sichuan province are actively engaged in the response and relief work in support of the government.

Starting from 10 August 2020, Sichuan Province in southwest China has experienced several rounds of strong torrential rain. On 11 August, Sichuan province raised its blue alert to orange alert for the torrential rain, and the Sichuan Provincial Headquarter for Flood Prevention and Drought Control initiated a Level III response to the flood (the highest being Level I). By 12 August, 107,000 people in Chengdu, Deyang, Mianyang, Guangyuan, Ya'an and Meishan cities were affected and more than 40,000 were relocated, and eleven people died or went missing in Ya'an.

From 14 to 16 August, the Sichuan Meteorological Observatory issued a rainstorm warning for three consecutive days, from blue to yellow and then to orange. The Ministry of Water Resources and the China Meteorological Administration issued an orange alert on 15 August for floods in parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu over the same 24-hour period. On August 15, the Sichuan provincial meteorological observatory issued a yellow alert for rainstorms. The National Disaster Reduction Committee of China (NDRCC) and the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) urgently launched the national Level-IV emergency response to the recent severe floods in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, and sent two working groups to the hardest hit areas to inspect the disaster situation on the spot, and guide and assist the local authorities in disaster verification and assessment, transfer and resettlement of the affected people and basic living assistance. A joint Working Group comprising MEM and NDRCC members were dispatched to Sichuan, who inspected the flood situation and the development of emergency rescue teams in Jialing River, and assisted in guiding local emergency rescue and transfer and resettlement of the public.

The downpours hit the western Sichuan Basin and the eastern part of the plateau area in western Sichuan from 15 to 16 August, and continuous rainfall caused 31 rivers in the province to exceed warning levels. Farmland, transportation, water conservancy and other infrastructure in various parts of the province have been damaged to varying degrees. Rainstorms have been recorded in 12 per cent of the area in the province. 41 rivers had above-alert and over-preserved water levels. And 22 of these rivers reached the normal safe level, with twice the floodwater level recorded during the flood season last year. Both urban areas and villages have been heavily impacted by the new round of torrential rainfall since 10 August. As of 16 August, more than 60,000 residents were evacuated because of the heavy rain.

The Sichuan Provincial Headquarter for Flood Prevention and Drought Control raised the response level to LevelII on 17 August. On 18 August, the National Headquarter for Flood Prevention and Drought Control decided to upgrade the flood control Level-III emergency response to Level-II and sent two ministerial-level working groups to Chongqing and Sichuan to guide and assist local governments in carrying out flood control and disaster relief work. Subsequently, the Sichuan Provincial Headquarter for Flood Prevention and Drought Control raised the response level to Level-II, the first time the province has ever triggered a Level I response for floods.

As of 18 August, 20:00 hours local time, the "8.11" flood in Sichuan has affected 3,419,0000 people in 142 counties (cities, districts) in Chengdu, Zigong, Panzhihua, Zhangzhou, Deyang, Mianyang, Guangyuan, Suining,
Neijiang, Leshan, Nanchong, Meishan, Yibin, Ya 'an, Bazhong, Ziyang, Aba, Ganzi and Liangshan. The affected area of crops is 165,000 hectares, of which 21,000 hectares are devastated. 2,155 houses of 895 households with collapsed, and 6,158 houses of 2,484 households were seriously damaged. The direct economic loss is estimated amounting to 16.42 billion yuan. At present, the disaster impact assessment is still being conducted.

According to Sichuan Provincial Headquarter for Flood Prevention and Drought Control, this round of torrential rain in Sichuan Province has come to an end, and the floods in the main rivers are retreating, among which the floods in Qingyi River Basin have retreated below the warning level, and the floods in the main stream and tributaries of Tuojiang River, Minjiang River and Fujiang River are retreating. On 19 August, the flood response level was degraded from Level-I to Level III in Sichuan.