Wuxi East railway station, in eastern China, has been struck by a deluge of flooding that turned the station into an extraordinary scene resembling waterfalls, with torrents cascading down escalators and staircases.
The incident is part of a wave of extreme weather conditions that have been sweeping through central and eastern China in recent months, leaving devastation in its wake.
China, the world’s most populous country and one of its largest economies, has been grappling with extreme weather patterns since April, including heavy rain and floods, as well as blistering heatwaves in inland regions. The nation’s capital, Beijing, has been on high alert for severe flooding as the country continues to be pounded by these extreme weather events.
Authorities have attributed the extreme weather to the onset of the peak rainy season in late July. However, these storms have intensified and become more unpredictable, putting heavily built-up megacities, often equipped with inadequate drainage systems, at risk of deadly floods. Climate change’s influence on these weather patterns has raised concerns about China’s ability to cope with such challenges.
Beijing has mobilised more than 2,600 personnel to drain dozens of pumping stations in preparation for potential flooding. Thousands of water drainage outlets along roads have been cleared, and some bus routes in suburban and mountainous areas have been suspended to mitigate the impact of the floods.
The neighbouring city of Tianjin has also intensified flood control efforts in the Hai basin, a significant northern drainage system. Conversely, scant rainfall in Jiangxi province has resulted in Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, receding to its lowest recorded level for this time of year. Poyang Lake is known as the “kidneys of China” due to its vital role in regulating the flow of the Yangtze River.
The Central Meteorological Observatory has issued warnings for heavy rain in eight provinces and autonomous regions, predicting short-term heavy downpours and significant hourly rain totals. Some areas may experience maximum hourly rain of 30 to 60 millimetres (1.2 to 2.4 inches), with more than 70 millimetres (2.76 inches) expected in others.