China Focus: Extreme rains test flood defenses
BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- This summer, China's traditionally arid northern regions have received frequent downpours, causing floods, landslides and other geographical disasters, according to the national meteorological authority.
Beijing was hit by a massive storm on July 21, flooding downtown streets, triggering landslides in suburban areas and resulting in more than 70 deaths.
In the northeast, massive rains have pounded Liaoning province, forcing more than 12,000 people to relocate, local authorities said Monday.
Also on Monday, the Chinese government initiated an emergency plan in response to torrential rains and flooding that have swept north China's Shanxi province since July 26. Seven people were killed and three have gone missing in disasters caused by the extreme weather there.
The extreme amount of rainfall has caused water levels on the Yellow and Yangtze rivers to continue to climb, alarming neighboring areas.
The government has relocated 40,800 residents in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces, as the year's first flood peak has hit the middle reaches of the Yellow River, flood control authorities said Saturday.
The Jiujiang section of the Yangtze River in Jiangxi province has seen its water levels rise by more than one meter over the past two weeks as a result of flooding on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the provincial hydrographical bureau said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the approach of tropical storms Saola and Damrey may bring a great deal of rain to southeast China. Flood control authorities called for intensified efforts on disaster prevention on Tuesday, as the storms have continued to strengthen while heading for the southeast coast.
The National Meteorological Center forecast showers in the country's north and northeast areas for the next ten days, marking a critical point for the country's flood control and disaster prevention efforts.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, among 5,400 small reservoirs across the country that play a key role in water discharging, only half have been reinforced to fight the looming floods.
Unattended or unconsolidated water discharge channels can be fatal. A village governor from Beijing's Fangshan district said the Jiakuo River, the area's main water diversion channel, had long been partially blocked by debris from a nearby quarry before the July 21 storm.
Four villagers failed to escape and drowned in water as deep as four meters, he said, as Fangshan received record precipitation of 460 mm that night.
On the other hand, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, part of the country's Three Gorges hydropower project, smoothly weathered the biggest flood peak in nine years last Wednesday morning, according to data from the Three Gorges Corporation.
The dam was hit with a record water inflow of 71,200 cubic meters per second at 8 p.m. last Tuesday evening, a greater flow of water than that experienced during the devastating 1954 and 1998 Yangtze floods.
The dam will continue to discharge water and maintain sludge treatment, said Cai Qihua, director of the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission.
"The Three Gorges reservoir will retain 86 percent of its flood control capacity in a century's time, as long as sludge treatment is maintained," he said.
The hydropower project, now the world's largest, releases water in dry seasons to ease droughts and blocks water during rainy seasons to alleviate flood pressure in downstream areas.
Editor: Mu Xuequan