Tens of thousands evacuated after floods in China, North Korea

More than 120,000 people have been evacuated in northeast China following serious floods that have already left four dead and forced the relocation of thousands in neighbouring North Korea.

Heavy summer downpours have dangerously swollen the Yalu river, which forms the border between the two countries, and forecasters are warning of yet more torrential rain to come.

China’s civil affairs ministry said late Saturday that 127,000 people had been evacuated in Liaoning province in just three days due to the rains, as the nation struggles with its worst floods in a decade.

In Dandong city alone, which borders North Korea, more than 94,000 residents were evacuated and some power and transport links were cut off, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A couple in their 70s and a mother and son died in Kuandian county, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Dandong, when flash floods swept away their homes, Xinhua said, citing a local flood control official.

A 60-year-old man was also missing in Kuandian after his house collapsed in a rain-triggered landslide.

According to the state-run Beijing Times, the floods in Dandong are the second most serious since 1949.

China’s national meteorological centre warned Sunday that new downpours were expected in parts of Liaoning, including Dandong, for another 24 hours at least.

In neighbouring North Korea, more than 5,000 people have been moved to safety after parts of Sinuiju city and rural communities near the border were “completely inundated”, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The impoverished state has been hit by widespread flooding this summer, which has washed away homes, roads, railways and farmland, causing an unspecified number of deaths, according to state media reports from Pyongyang.

After decades of deforestation, North Korea is particularly vulnerable to flooding. In 2007, it reported at least 600 people dead or missing from devastating floods.

China has also been battered by heavy rains, and nearly 3,900 people have been killed or left missing this year in flood-related incidents, official figures show.

In the northwestern province of Gansu, a torrent of mud on August 7 slammed into homes in the remote town of Zhouqu, leaving at least 1,434 people dead and another 331 missing.

In the southwestern province of Yunnan, rescuers are still searching for 69 people who went missing in rain-triggered mudslides in a remote, mountainous area. Twenty-three people have been confirmed dead, Xinhua said.