Nine people are missing in central China after a landslide sparked by heavy rains amid flooding and searing temperatures across much of the country, authorities said Sunday.
Five people were rescued from under the rubble at a highway construction site in the central province of Hubei, where the accident occurred on Saturday. Crews were still excavating in hopes of finding more survivors.
Tens of thousands of people have been moved to shelters amid heavy flooding in northern, central and southeastern China. Seasonal flooding is a regular occurrence in China, but this year’s rising waters have been accompanied by unusually prolonged stretches of high temperatures.
With its more than 4 million square miles of land area, China is being hit simultaneously this summer by heat waves, flooding and drought.
Cities have opened their air raid shelters to offer residents relief from the heat.
Earlier this week, Beijing reported more than nine straight days with temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, a streak unseen since 1961.
Authorities have issued health alerts and, in the capital and elsewhere, suspended outdoor work, although many workers continued to deliver packages, lay bricks and haul goods amid fears over a faltering economic recovery.
So far, two deaths in Beijing have been attributed to the scorching heat. Health authorities said a tour guide collapsed and died of heat stroke Sunday while giving a tour of the Summer Palace — a vast, 18th century imperial garden. Last month, a woman in Beijing also died from a heat stroke.
Health authorities in Shaoxing, a city in Zhejiang province, said Thursday they have recorded deaths caused by the heat but did not specify any details.
Chinese cities such as Chongqing, a southwestern metropolis known for its torrid summers, have for years used their air raid tunnels as public cooling centers.
The shelters are now often equipped with seating areas and offer access to water, refreshments, heat stroke medicine and in some cases amenities such as Wi-Fi, television and table-tennis equipment.
Weather authorities warned Thursday that severe drought in northern China was threatening crops and stressing overworked electric grids. Meanwhile, heavy flooding in southern China has displaced thousands of people over the past few weeks.
Earth’s average temperature set a new unofficial record high Thursday, the third such milestone in a week that already rated as the hottest on record.