A father holding his son standing in the flood in Longcaogou, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on August 14.

A father holding his son standing in the flood in Longcaogou, Southwest China's Sichuan Province on August 14.
Seven people were killed and eight others were slightly injured in the flash floods on Saturday in Longcaogou of Pengzhou, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, local authorities said, noting that some tourists who were camping in the dried-up river were trapped in the flash flood after failing to evacuate in time.

In response, the Sichuan Provincial Government issued a notice on Saturday evening requiring local authorities across the province to urgently inspect scenic spots prone to natural disasters, and arrange administrators to keep an eye on the key places and dissuade tourists from unsafe behaviors in a timely manner.

According to the video shot by witnesses at the scene, there were several tourists camping in tents in the dried-up river, including the elderly and children. The flash flood washed away some tourists and tents just in a few seconds, and people at the scene cried out in shock.

At present, more than 500 rescuers from Pengzhou Emergency Management Bureau, Public Security Bureau, Fire Brigade and other departments are conducting a search of valleys and rivers to find lost tourists, said local authorities, adding that at least 15 professional rescue teams, including mountain rescue and diving rescue teams, are taking part in the rescue work. The rescue work at the scene is drawing to a close.

The local emergency management bureau issued a notice on Saturday evening, saying that the local weather forecast indicated that there would be short-term heavy rainfall in the local area that afternoon at 14: 37 pm, and immediately organized local officials and volunteers to persuade tourists camping along the river to leave.

Video taken by witnesses shows a manager shouting to tourists who have not yet landed: "'Please, everyone, get on shore."

Less than an hour later at 15:30 pm, a flash flood in Longcaogou soon filled the originally dried-up river, and some tourists who were camping in the area were trapped in a flash flood after failing to evacuate in time.

Although Longcaogou was hit by floods in 2015 and 2017, which caused economic losses of more than 1.5 million yuan ($222,000), it has not deterred tourists from visiting the area.

Local merchants said that since it was a weekend, there may be thousands of people visiting Longcaogou when the incident occurred. "It's so crowded that I can't even find a place to park," a man surnamed Xu, who was visiting Longcaogou from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, told Jimu News on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Longcaogou also has been widely discussed on social media as a "new Instagram-worthy location" and a "niche holiday resort." But in fact, local residents told Jimu News that it is a spillway river and it is not a formal scenic spot, and there are warning signs beside the river saying "No entry".

Local authorities have issued several advisories warning of the dangers of visiting Longcaogou in 2021, which has previously stated that it is located in an area prone to landslides, mountain floods and other natural disasters, posing a great threat to the personal safety of tourists.

Local villagers told the China News Weekly that going to the mountains during the rainy season is extremely risky, and "no one can predict when flash floods will suddenly occur."

A Chengdu resident surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Sunday that because most areas in Pengzhou are located in a mountainous area that has many scenic spots and nature reserves run by the government, tourists coming from the surrounding provinces have always liked to go there for the summer.

"I feel so sorry for the victims. I've been to Pengzhou before and I think it's a beautiful place. This kind of tragedy could have been avoided if they had chosen proper tourist attractions in the first place," said Zhang.

A staff member of the government of Longmenshan township, to which Longcaogou belongs to, told the Global Times that the local government is still actively coordinating the rescue work on the spot, and will introduce stricter measures to strengthen the management of places like Longgcaogou after the rescue is over.

The social media platforms should be rectified for failing to supervise and review the content according to the information released by authorities, as the local government has issued travel warnings through its official accounts, a Beijing-based law expert told the Global Times on Sunday.