Beijing, July 9 (BNA): Chinese authorities said Sunday that nine people are missing in central China after a landslide caused by torrential rains amid floods and sweltering temperatures in most parts of the country.
Five people were rescued from rubble at a highway construction site in the central province of Hubei, where the accident occurred on Saturday. Crews were still excavating, hoping to find more survivors.
Tens of thousands of people have been rushed to shelters amid heavy flooding in northern, central and southeastern China. Monsoon floods are common in China, but this year’s high water levels have been accompanied by unusually long periods of high temperatures.
With more than 9 million square kilometers (4 million square miles) of land area, China is simultaneously hit by heatwaves, floods and droughts this summer.
Cities opened their air raid shelters to cool residents from the heat.
Earlier this week, Beijing reported more than nine consecutive days with temperatures above 35C, a streak not seen since 1961.
The authorities issued health alerts and, in the capital and elsewhere, suspended outdoor work, although many workers continued to deliver packages, lay bricks and transport goods amid fears that the economic recovery would falter.
So far, there have been two deaths in Beijing due to the extreme heat. A tour guide collapsed and died Sunday of heatstroke while touring the Summer Palace in a vast 18th-century imperial garden, health authorities said. And last month, a woman died in Beijing of heatstroke.
On Thursday, health authorities in the city of Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, said they had recorded deaths due to high temperatures, but did not specify any details.
Chinese cities such as Chongqing, a city in the southwest famous for its hot summers, have for years used air raid tunnels as public cooling centers.
Shelters are now often equipped with seating areas and provide access to water, refreshments, heatstroke treatment, and in some cases amenities such as Wi-Fi, television, and table tennis equipment.
Weather authorities warned Thursday that a severe drought in northern China is threatening crops and stressing overstretched electrical grids. Meanwhile, heavy flooding in southern China has displaced thousands of people over the past few weeks.
The Earth’s average temperature set a new unofficial record on Thursday, the third milestone in a week already ranked as the hottest on record.
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