Harrowing video has emerged of the moment families enjoying a quiet day by a river suddenly became trapped by flash flooding, in a disaster that has claimed the lives of at least seven people.
A pleasant day out on a river in Pengzhou city in southwestern China quickly turned into a fight for survival as the water rapidly rose following rain on the mountains.
People could be seen scrambling to flee in videos posted on social media, but some were caught in the middle, clinging to each other as the water raged around them.
One man at the scene said several people were washed away, including some children, when the waterflow in the lower reaches of the river suddenly increased in just 10 to 20 seconds, the state-owned China National Radio reported.
Warnings ignored by public
Workers and volunteers urged people to leave the area after receiving an imminent heavy rain warning at about 2.40pm on Saturday, the emergency management bureau in Pengzhou city said.
Videos show workers with megaphones directing people to leave the river, but many ignored the warnings, continuing to play in the shallows or stay under tents along the rocky shoreline.
Less than an hour later, at about 3.30pm, the torrent hit.
In one clip, people can be seen attempting to gather their belongings and pack up their tents despite the rapidly rising water.
In another video, a man and woman trying to make it across get stuck in the middle and desperately hold on to each other before eventually losing their footing and slipping into the water.
Another tragic scene shows what appears to be a child in the arms of an adult sitting on a submerged rock in the middle of the river.
On Sunday, the Chengdu city government reported that among the seven deaths, three others were hospitalised with minor injuries.
River hailed as an 'Instagram-worthy' spot
Pengzhou is a tourist spot about 70 kilometres north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
The valley had been touted on social media platforms as a "new Instagram-worthy location", despite the popular Meta app banned in China, with influencers and bloggers encouraging people to visit, the Global Times reported.
According to local residents however, access to the river isn't allowed and there are warning signs next to the banks advising that entry is not permitted.
Country hit with torrential rain, heatwaves
Elsewhere in China, heavy rain flooded streets in the northwestern city of Xining on Saturday night.
Heavy to torrential rain was forecast for the northeast from Sunday to Monday afternoon with 100 to 180mm of rainfall expected in parts of Liaoning and Jilin provinces.
A heat wave was hovering over a wide swath of southern China, with highs Sunday forecast at 35 to 39 degrees and possibly surpassing 40 degrees in some places including Shanghai.
Jiangsu province warned that road surface temperatures could rise to 72 degrees, raising the risk of flat tires, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
With Associated Press
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