The downpours have dangerously swelled waterways in the low-lying Pearl River basin in recent days, threatening manufacturing, shipping and logistics operations at a time when supply chains are already stressed because of China’s strict Covid-19 controls.
The average rainfall in Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi provinces between early May and the middle of June reached 621 millimetres (24 inches), the highest since 1961, according to China’s National Meteorological Center.
State media photos showed people huddled on camp beds in schools converted into temporary shelters in Guangdong’s Shaoguan city, and hundreds of tents erected on a sports ground.
In neighbouring Guangxi region, muddy water was seen flooding urban areas and emergency rescuers were seen evacuating villagers on rubber dinghies, according to state media images.
The evacuees were among almost 480,000 people impacted by the rains and floods, according to the officials.
Shaoguan issued a red flood alert — the most serious — Tuesday morning, after multiple rural counties and the major city of Foshan upgraded their flood warnings in recent days.
Guangxi was hit by the heaviest floods since 2005, local media reported.
Meteorological authorities said Monday that 28 of Guangxi’s rivers had exceeded warning levels, with rains continuing on Tuesday.
Jiangxi province issued a red alert for flooding on Monday.
Earlier this month, at least 21 people died after flooding induced by torrential rain in the central Chinese province of Hubei.