Toll rises from rain storms in China as student bus plunges into reservoir

Rescue workers are seen at the site where a bus carrying students plunged into a reservoir, in Anshun, Guizhou province, China, on July 7, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

A bus carrying high school students plunged into a reservoir in southwest China on Tuesday, as days of torrential rain triggered flood warnings across large parts of the country and disrupted the first day of national college exams.

In the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus epidemic first erupted in December, a record-breaking 426 millimetres of rain fell on Sunday, the official China Daily reported, and authorities were using giant pumps to remove water from the flooded roads.

State broadcaster CCTV said the students on a bus that crashed into a reservoir in the city of Anshun in southwestern Guizhou province had been on their way to sit the college entry exams. The number of casualties had still to be confirmed.

But as of last Friday, there were 119 people dead or missing nationwide as a result of the rains storms, while the emergency ministry estimated economic losses to be in excess of 40 billion yuan (S$7.9 billion).

Guizhou, Anhui, Hunan and Hubei provinces were expected to record 250-280 millimetres (10-11 inches) on Tuesday, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

With nearly 11 million students set to sit their college exams, the weather agency warned parents to heed forecasts and prepare school journeys carefully.

Exams in some parts of Anhui province were postponed as a result of the worst flooding for 50 years, the local government reported.

The city of Qianjiang in the central province of Hubei became the first city to issue a Level I flood response alert on Monday after roads and farmland were inundated.

Authorities in Hubei and neighboring Hunan province have also issued orange flood alerts – the second highest – with some rivers 2-3 metres higher than warning levels, according to water ministry data.