China is facing its worst flooding in decades as the country struggles to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
What we know:
- President Xi Jinping described the flood situation as “very grim” and Chinese officials raised the flood alert to its second highest level in the four-tier emergency system. Over 38 million people have been impacted by the floods, with 2 million being displaced and 141 dead or missing, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management. Experts have estimated over $12 billion in damage due to flooding.
- The floods are complicating recovery efforts and some of the worst affected areas are also the regions hit hardest by the pandemic. Water levels have reached the heights of China’s 1998 floods, which killed more than 3,000 people. The Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, recorded historic levels of rainfall. Hubei accounted for more than 80% of China’s reported coronavirus cases.
- The flooding complicates an economy which is still reeling from coronavirus. In addition to African swine flu and coronavirus, the flooding has hurt China’s pork supply, a staple food. Pork prices are up more than 80% compared to last year and the pork shortage is a driving factor in China’s inflation. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, food prices increased over 10% since last year. China’s GDP lowered by 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020, the first reported contraction since 1976. This affects families trying to survive during floods and a pandemic, but it has also led to thousands of food businesses closing.
More heavy rains are forecast for the coming days, meaning the situation is unlikely to improve.