Oxfam situation report 3 on floods in PR China 22 Aug 2002

Report
from Oxfam
Published on 22 Aug 2002
August 22, 2002, Oxfam Hong Kong - Information collected from news reports in China and Hong Kong, local and international relief organizations as well as assessment team of our Southwest Office staff in Kunming, Yunnan.
Introduction - Floods and Damages in China

1. With the rainy season in China arriving earlier than usual, severe storms have caused floods and landslides in China since early June this year. Affected areas were mainly in the northwestern and central parts of the country early in the season, but have soon expanded to a nationwide situation affecting more than 20 provinces. Although the situation has stabilized to some extent in July, rainfall in the southwestern China has remained at high levels for most of August. This has led to a new chain of flooding and landslide events in a few southern provinces.

2. With the attack of Severe Tropical Storm Vongfong over the last weekend, water levels in some parts of Hunan, Jiangxi and Quangxi have risen above warning levels. In addition, there have been reports of major landslides at various sites in Yunnan province.

3. Detailed situations at the regions affected are as follows:

Yunnan:

As of August 21, 231 people have died and more than 20000 buildings have been damaged in Yunnan province due to floods and landslides. In Xinping County alone, 40 people have died and more than 600 homes have been damaged as a result of unprecedented large-scale landslides in the area. These landslides have affected a population of 29160, with an estimated damage of RMB 160 million (about USD 19.5 million). Other locations affected by landslides include Yanjing County, Puer, and parts of the city of Dali and Kunming.

Hunan:

Parts of the province are already plagued by sever floods. Early in morning the morning of August 22, water levels at the province's Xiangjiang Changsha Station has risen to a potentially dangerous high level of 38.5m, and the province has already entered a state of flood emergency since noon the previous day. Dongting Lake's levels has reached 34.5m, more than 2 meters about the warning level of 32m. An estimated 10 million people are threatened by the lake's high water level. Hubei, the neighboring province, is also at risk if the banks of Dongting do burst. Despite clearer skies and lower precipitation in Hunan these few days, water levels have continued to rise.

Jiangxi:

Water levels at the city of Jiujiang have risen above warning levels as of 18:00hrs August 20, 2002, when a flood crest of the Yangtze River arrived at the city. As an after-effect of the rainstorms associated with Severe Tropical Storm Vongfong, the flood crest is the largest one in the year so far. Landslides have also caused one section of the Beijing-Kowloon Railway to be suspended for more than a day since August 18 evening.

Guangxi:

Heavy rainstorms associated with the Tropical Storm Vongfong have caused water levels at Guangxi to rise rapidly over the last four days. As of noon August 21, the river Liujiang at the city of Liuzhou has had its fifth flashflood of the year, with water levels 1.5 meters higher than the warning level. 8 people also died earlier as a result of damages caused by Vongfong.

National Response

Measures have been taken at various locations for preparation against upcoming floods or for relief of present disaster situations. At Yunnan, more than 5000 people have been designated towards rescue efforts in the Xinping landslide. In addition, 3000 officials of the PLA, armed police and civilian forces are standing by in order to respond to any new incidences.

As of August 22, 2002, authorities in Hunan have deployed more than 8000 officials and 800,000 labourers in the vicinity of Dongting Lake as well as other areas to fight the danger of flooding. Flood control departments of Jiangxi have also taken emergency response measures to protect the province against potential flooding. Special power have been granted to civilian authorities to mobilize people and resources to strengthen anti-flood structures.

Other International NGO Response

In specific to the most recent series of events, the Red Cross at Yunnan Province has gathered funds of RMB 120,000 and more than 40,000 pieces of clothing. This will be distributed to victims of the recent landslides.

No response from other international NGOs have yet been reported, other than appeals and assessment made in response to floods that have occurred earlier this summer. Any updates will be made in upcoming situation reports.

Oxfam HK's Assessment and Action

Oxfam HK expresses deep concern for the flood and landslide situation, and is closely monitoring the situations in Yunnan province through its Southwest China Office in Kunming. Our staff at the Kunming location have recommended potential locations for response action, with priority given to areas that have received less media attention or government development directives. When necessary, Oxfam HK will allocate annual disaster management budget towards relief and rehabilitation work. We would allow entities that have relatively better capacity and resource mobilization mechanisms such as government departments and the army to carry out rescue and emergency response. We will, however, focus on post-emergency responses (the government has very limited resources for post-emergency work) in a couple of selective sites and visit these sites in about a month's time if necessary.

(Remarks: In response to prior flooding events, Oxfam has selected four provinces as prioritized response areas: Shaanxi, Guizhou, Guangxi and Sichuan. OHK has conducted a series of field inspection and distributed relief materials through our local partners in those areas. Oxfam HK has allocated annual disaster management budget for the initial response work, while the Fundraising unit has set a separate account to support this response appeal since the mid June, with HK$438,000 of donation accumulated for response work in these areas.)

Arnold Fang
Program Officer for Disaster Management
Oxfam Hong Kong
Email: xhfang@oxfam.org.hk