Southwest China Braces for More Floods


2004-09-08
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Residents inspect the damages after a flash flood hit the township of Kaixian in China's southwest municipality of Chongqing, 06 September 2004. At least 90 people were killed and 77 were missing after some of the worst rainstorms in recent years triggered landslides and flash floods in southwest China. CREDIT: AFP

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HONG KONG—Southwest China braced for more floods after deadly storms killed scores of people and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 97 people had died in Sichuan Province and 75 more in Chongqing. More than 300,000 homes were damaged across the two regions, and hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated, Xinhua reported.

Most of the deaths in Sichuan and Chongqing to the east were caused by landslides, fast-moving mud-and-rock flows, and flash floods sweeping through mountain valleys from Thursday to Monday, Xinhua said.

Official put the massive Three Gorges hydroelectric dam project on alert as flood crests surged along the swollen Yangtze River. They also suspended river traffic through the dam’s locks. The dam was expecting the largest flood peak in more than 100 years after continuous rain in the river's upper reaches.

The Associated Press quoted Lin Hai, an official with the dam's water traffic bureau, as saying the locks would reopen once water flow dropped to below 45,000 cubic meters (1.5 million cubic feet) per second from the current level of 60,000 cubic meters (2.1 million cubic feet) per second.

Usual volume through the dam is 30,000 cubic meters (1 million cubic feet) per second. “If there's no further storm from upstream, we expect the locks to reopen on Friday,” Lin was quoted as saying.

The Three Gorges Dam, planned for decades and touted as a means of staunching regular flooding by the Yangtze, forced 1.3 million people to relocate and stirred fierce international debate for years.

Weather services are still predicting more major storms in the coming days, Xinhua said. More than 5,000 soldiers were taking part in the emergency efforts, and one 19-year-old recruit drowned while helping with evacuations, Xinhua said.

Summer rains wreak havoc across the flood-prone Yangtze practically every year, with torrents rushing down denuded slopes to menace low-lying plains in central China.

Flooding losses were initially estimated at 3.9 billion yuan(U.S. $470 million), Xinhua said, with the greatest damage caused by landslides and flash floods sweeping through mountain valleys.

In some areas the flood water has been deep enough to submerge four-storey buildings. Rescue workers are said to be delivering supplies of food and medicine by boat.

On the Web:

China Online - Three Gorges Dam

International River Network

The Three Gorges Project

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