China’s Henan Braces for More Rain as Death Toll Rises to 33
(Bloomberg) -- China’s Henan province is bracing for more heavy rain after severe flooding that sparked large-scale evacuations left at least 33 dead, while minor disruptions to manufacturing and commodity production continued.
The death toll includes at least 12 people who were killed after water flooded subway cars in the capital Zhengzhou. Eight remain missing, according to government figures. Heavy rain is expected to continue to fall in parts of Henan as well as neighboring Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, through Thursday, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
Rainfall in the central Chinese province intensified since Tuesday, with Zhengzhou, a city of 10 million, receiving a year’s worth of rain in just three days. Across Henan, 3 million people have been affected and as many as 380,000 evacuated as of early Thursday.
The flooding in Henan, a hub for agricultural and food production, coal and metals as well as heavy industry, is being closely watched for any serious economic disruptions, though the damage appears to be contained so far. Nissan Motor Co Ltd, which operates a plant in a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd, suspended operations at the factory for a second day, according to a spokesperson. SAIC Motor Corp., China’s biggest automaker, said its plant in Zhengzhou hasn’t been damaged.
Read more: CHINA INSIGHT: Henan Flood to Bring Limited Growth, CPI Impact
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which owns a massive iPhone production plant in Zhengzhou, said the flooding has had no direct impact on the facility.
For commodities, the floods have led to some aluminum production in Henan halted or reduced, and a small amount of iron ore transportation and scrap metal procurement disrupted, according to researcher Mysteel. And while the persistent rainfall has flooded some corn fields, the overall impact is “not significant” as the acreage affected accounts for just 12% of the total area sown in Henan, the National Meteorological Center said.
Energy traders are not pricing in any significant impact from the flooding to coal supply, with thermal coal futures in China falling.
The latest figures from the Chinese government on Thursday estimated the financial damage from the flooding at about 1.2 billion yuan ($186 million), and the State Council has urged for more flood control and disaster relief measures as some regions still face heavy rainfall. During a visit to Zhengzhou Wednesday, a central government inspection team told local officials to step up safety checks of local dams, restore power and transportation and strengthen disinfection in flood-hit areas.
Bloomberg Economists: Henan Flood to Bring Limited Growth, CPI Impact
Meanwhile, China’s banking and insurance regulator told lenders to adjust financing policies in the flooded region and refrain from calling back loans to companies that halted their business due to the disaster. The body also encouraged banks to lower loan rates and service charges for affected merchants.
The catastrophe is helping focus attention on the impact that climate change is having on China, as it comes amid a series of extreme weather events around the world including deadly floods in Germany, wildfires in Siberia and heatwaves in North America. The flooding in central China also followed a heatwave.
Karsten Haustein, a research associate at the University of Oxford, said that normal monsoonal activity and the region’s mountainous topography makes it “highly suspectible” to such disasters, but the impact was “supercharged” by climate change. Haustein said that global warming brought an extra 10-20% of rainfall to Henan.
“Climate change isn’t helping to reduce the risk, it rather increases China’s vulnerability to these types of weather extremes,” said Haustein.
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