'Apocalyptic' image emerges from China as country faces trio of crises

With much of the northern hemisphere experiencing extreme weather events, an "apocalyptic" photo has emerged from China showing the trio of disasters confronting the country.

Amid a crippling heatwave and drought – which has impacted the country's extensive hydropower system – the southwestern regions of Chonqging and Sichuan have been battling extensive wildfires.

And it's all playing out in front of the backdrop of China's strict Covid Zero policy.

Chinese workers carry out Covid testing as wildfires rage nearby.
Chinese workers carry out Covid testing as wildfires rage nearby. Source: Twitter/Stephen McDonell

BBC's China correspondent Stephen McDonell shared an image online which illustrates just how far the country will go to enforce its Covid policy.

It shows locals being swabbed for the virus late at night while flames can be seen raging behind them.

"The images coming out of Chongqing are apocalyptic," he tweeted Friday.

"Mass coronavirus PCR tests being carried out as bushfires rage following months of heatwave with a record drought threatening crops and severely limiting much needed hydroelectricity."

In another image, hundreds of firefighters can be seen queuing up for their own Covid tests.

While authorities announced the mountain fires were under control with some extinguished, the area has effectively become a flashpoint for the crises facing the country: Drought, fires and Covid.

"It's as if Chongqing has become the epicentre of all these global crisis points: drought, heatwaves, climate change bringing on extreme weather which is threatening food supplies," Mr McDonell said, noting the debate about China's unrelenting and extreme Covid policy.

Chinese heatwave unlike 'anything seen previously'

Officials warned this month that temperatures were rising faster in China than in the rest of the world and a record-breaking heatwave has raised concern about its ability to adapt to rapid climate change and conserve already scarce water resources.

Climate historian Maximiliano Herrera is among those who have sounded the alarm.

"This heatwave overtakes anything seen previously worldwide," he tweeted earlier this week.

At more than 75 days, the heatwave has surpassed China’s record of 62 days in 2013, The Washington Post reported. However there are signs it is subsiding with rain on the way.

However the drought has posed a "severe threat" to China's autumn crops, the ministry of agriculture said in a notice earlier this week, adding that authorities had been instructed to do everything they could to increase water supplies and protect the harvest.

Farmers suffering from severe crop damage would be urged to replant, and cloud-seeding rockets would be made available wherever possible.

Agricultural workers are being urged by the government to replant or switch crops where they can as the country tries to recover from the slow-moving environmental catastrophe.

with Reuters

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