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1931 China floods facts for kids

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1931 China floods
Victims of the flooding in August 1931
Victims of the flooding in August 1931
How long: July–November 1931 (depending on river)
Deaths: 422,499–4,000,000
Areas affected: Yellow River, Yangtze River, Huai River

The 1931 China floods or the 1931 Yellow River Floods were a series of floods that occurred in China in the year 1931. It is the most deadly natural disaster by death toll. About 145,000-3.7 million people were said to be dead in this series of floods.

Causes and consequences

In the period of 1928-30 China faced a severe drought. Due to some abnormal weather conditions heavy snowstorms and heavy rainfall occurred in parts of central China. The water levels increased in the rivers. The rain grew heavier in July and August in 1931. China faced nine cyclones in July 1931 alone.

The floods inundated approximately 180,000 square kilometres (69,000 sq mi) – an area equivalent in size to England and half of Scotland, or the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut combined. The high-water mark recorded on 19 August at Hankou in Wuhan showed water levels 16 m (53 ft) above the average, an average of 1.7 m (5.6 ft) above the Shanghai Bund. In Chinese, this event is commonly known as 江淮水灾, which roughly translates to "Yangtze-Huai Flood Disaster." This name, however, fails to capture the massive scale of flooding. Waterways throughout much of the country were inundated, particularly the Yellow River and Grand Canal. The eight most seriously affected provinces were Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Henan and Shandong. Beyond the core flood zone, areas as far south as Guangdong, as far north as Manchuria, and as far west as Sichuan were also inundated.


Chinese sources say 145,000 died due to the overflow of the Yangtze River. Western sources say a death toll of 3.7 million-4 million people. In July alone, four weather stations along the Yangtze River reported rain totaling over 600 mm (24 in) for the month.

The Yangtze and Huai River floods soon reached Nanjing, the capital of China at the time. The city, located on an island in a massive flood zone, suffered catastrophic damage. Millions died of drowning while some died due to starvation, from waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhus. The high-water mark was reached on 19 August at Hankou town in Wuhan, with the water level exceeding 53 ft (16 m) above normal. On the evening of 25 August 1931, the water rushing through the Grand Canal washed away dikes near Gaoyou Lake. Some 200,000 people drowned in their sleep in the resulting deluge.

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