Monday, August 15, 2016

More On China's Massive Flood Losses


A little over a week ago, in When China's Floodwaters Recede, we looked at some of the health warnings being issued in the wake of some of the worst flooding in that country in nearly 2 decades.  

Although China clamped down sharply on `unauthorized' reporting in late July  (see BBC China shuts several online news sites for independent reporting), we nonetheless are getting some sense of the size of this disaster, and its potential impact.

While the situation on the ground is undoubtedly confused, and Chinese estimates of lives lost are always suspect, that number is being reported as under 1,000. This from the July 25th OCHA report:

Since 18 July, continuous heavy rainfall affected several areas of northern, central and eastern China triggering floods and landslides. As of 21 July, around 10.5 million people were affected in eight provinces (including Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong, Henan, and Inner Mongolia). An estimated 337,000 people were temporarily relocated due to floods.

As of 24 July, the national state media reported that Hebei was the worst affected and recorded the highest number of casualties, with over 100 people dead and over 100 people missing. The National Committee for Disaster Reduction and the Ministry of Civil Affairs activated a level IV national disaster response to support local authorities. To date, no international assistance has been requested.
10.5 million people affected

An insurance industry report issued two weeks ago (Impact Forecasting’s monthly Global Catastrophe Recap) cited: 

  • At least 20 provincial regions have been impacted by floods since May
  • 18 million acres of cropland damaged by floodwater
  • 800,000 homes and other structures have been damaged or destroyed
  • 764 people are dead or missing

The loss to infrastructure, both urban and rural, appears to be extensive.  There are reports of thousands of cars submerged in parking garages, massive landslides, breached levees, and huge agricultural losses.

While far from a full accounting, a report published (and reprinted extensively in the Chinese media) in the past 24 hours describes some of the losses. 


At 00:35 on August 15, 2016 Source: Xinhua
Rare heavy rainfall since July caused Yangtze River flood emergency, in addition to causing damage to property staff, but also drowned and washed away a large number of livestock.
Public information display, Anhui died or washed away nearly 80,000 pigs, poultry, more than 12 million; Hubei death tolls of over 80,000 pigs, poultry over 3.6 million; Jiangxi death of more than 5.2 million poultry. More than a month later, the death of livestock go? How to deal with? Will "on the table"? Xinhua News Agency, "China Network in" this reporter conducted interviews.

This pig farm "experience" is the epitome of floods. Anhui Provincial Agriculture Commission statistics show that as of the end of July, the local pigs died or washed away about 80,000, more than 12 million poultry, livestock and poultry barns collapsed damaged more than 150 million square meters. In Jiangxi Province, there are 66,000 square meters of livestock pens collapsed in the flood damage, about 7,000 pigs, more than 5.2 million poultry death tolls.

Reporters interviewed found that in key areas the floods, now part of livestock is still soaked in water. Anqing City, Anhui Province Huaining County town Wanxing Wei, Huaining County Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Bureau Zhu Shuqing said the county affected farms (households), more than 230, have died or been washed away over 157,000 poultry, pigs death 1.7 million head.
(Continue . . . )

The gist of all of this is not just the horrendous losses in livestock (many of which are lying dead in the field), but that the infrastructure for raising them has been severely damaged as well.

Livestock that survived the actual floods are no doubt weakened, highly stressed, likely exposed to the elements, and are potentially at greater risk of death or disease in the coming months. 

Far less information has been released about the inundation of farmlands, beyond the estimate that 18 million acres have been affected.  Crop losses have been described as `heavy', however, and it is unknown how much this flooding will impact the planting of winter wheat next month.

In another article, published today in People's Daily, we see more of the angst in the wake of this summer's flooding.  While the (translated) syntax is awkward, the meaning is clear:

Li Zhipeng
August 15, 2016, at 14:00

Flood is merciless, disaster, threaten our safety, hurting our beautiful homes, the devastation of our partners, storm, flood, drowned and washed away so many of the animals, which is both a huge economic loss, more is the story of a life is so fragile. We regret the terrible floods, lamented life's valuable, condensed power of resilience, rebuilding better homes. Facing such high death animal data, we cannot help but doubt, one month later, the dying animal to where? How to handle? Whether "on the table"? If the answer is "unclear" and "don't know", "not sure", then it was terrible than floods.
      (Continue . . . )

While China is unlikely to publicize the full extent of the damage from this flood, the losses appear to be substantial.  Although the immediate concerns are for loss of life, injuries, and restoration of essential services the longer term impact remains  uncertain.

From a disease standpoint, the concerns right now center on contaminated water supplies, consumption of spoiled meat and food, proper waste disposal, water-contact related skin diseases, and an increase in  vector-borne diseases.

Longer term, with stressed livestock (particularly pigs and poultry), one has to worry about more losses, and the possibility of seeing a rise in zoonotic infections - such as Strep suis or avian flu - this fall and winter.

Although the recent clampdown on independent reporting out of China will make the task more difficult, we'll need to keep a very close eye on the events in China over the coming months.

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