Death toll rises after highway in China gives way


The death toll has risen to 36 after a highway in southern China’s Guangdong province collapsed due to heavy rain.

The state news agency Xinhua reports that a stretch of road between the city of Meizhou and the Dabu district gave way on Tuesday around 20:10 (local time).

An 18 m section of the road gave way, vehicles plunged into the abyss and occupants were trapped.

Guangdong, a densely populated industrial center, has been hit by a series of disasters in recent weeks attributed to extreme weather conditions. Storms far heavier than are experienced at this time of year have occurred.

Xinhua reports that 12 more people died in the incident, bringing the death toll to 36. About 30 people suffered less serious injuries.

Footage from the state broadcaster CCTV shows numerous car wrecks lying in a deep muddy pit where the highway used to be.

State media described the incident as a “natural geological disaster” caused by the “effect of continuous heavy rain”.

Pres. Xi Jinping, the Chinese head of state, told officials to do everything possible at the scene of the accident and ensure risk management is done temporarily and properly.

Around 500 people are involved in the rescue operation.

According to reports, the provincial government “mobilized specialized elite forces and did everything to carry out a search and rescue operation”.

An official notice redirected motorists to other roads on Wednesday.

Parts of central and eastern Guangdong have received as much as 600mm of rain in the past 10 days, three times more than usual for this time of year, the national weather office said on Thursday.

As much as 120mm of rain was forecast for the province’s south-western areas on Thursday, along with further downpours across southern China.

The conditions “increase the risk of disasters, especially geological disasters”, the weather office said.

The Department of Emergency Management also warned that continued rain could lead to more such disasters and officials warned people to plan trips with care.

Torrential rain caused flooding in Guangdong last month that killed four people and displaced more than 100,000 people.

Last week a tornado led to the death of five people in Guangzhou.