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June to September is monsoon season across most parts of Asia and the ensuing downpours this year have resulted in some severe flooding and landslides in several parts of China, India and Pakistan. Here is a quick recap of what has happened so far – and advice for travellers visiting affected regions. As always, please check travel advisories with your local government body prior to leaving or planning your trip.
It was earthquakes earlier this year, now, Northwest China has been hit with severe landslides triggered by heavy rain. In Zhouqu County in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, the death toll stands at around 340 with over a thousand people still missing.
Sichuan in the Southwest, Jilin in the Northeast and several parts of Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Guizhou provinces were also hit with heavy flooding in June and July 2010.
While China's government is particularly efficient in rescue and repair work, travellers should avoid these areas. It is easy to skirt around the affected areas by bus and plane. Rail lines might be affected, so check on the ground. If you had planned on taking the train into Tibet, please consider flying if you are pressed for time.
Alternatively, if you still have plans to travel in China, the areas from Shanghai all the way up north to Beijing are excellent options. This route takes you through some stunning scenery including the Unesco World Heritage site Huangshan, ancient villages in Anhui and the charming canal towns of Suzhou.
The town of Leh in Ladakh has also been hit by rain-induced flash floods and landslides. If you have made plans to visit, please postpone your trip or check on the situation before going. While the airport has reopened, relief efforts are underway and we would advise travellers to stay away unless they are visiting to provide aid.
If you are planning on heading to the area for trekking, try diverting instead to neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. The scenery is just as stunning and after hiking, you can camp in Manali to wait for Leh to resume some semblance of normality.
The worst hit of all countries seems to be Pakistan. The Swat District in the North was inundated with rain as was the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The rising floodwaters and swollen rivers have also threatened Punjab and Sindh in the south.
The United Nations has issued a statement declaring the disaster worse than the 2004 tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake. Thirteen million people are believed to have been affected by floods and the death toll stands at 1,600.
With rain continuing and water rushing south down already swollen rivers, we would advise shelving plans for any visits to Pakistan for the time being.
Huffington Post has a wrap of what different organisations are doing to help in the area. ACFIB (the Australian Council for International Development) also has a list of accredited organisations assisting Pakistan.