Al­ready soggy south­ern China warned to brace for new floods

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HOU LIQIANG in Bei­jing and FENG ZHIWEI in Chang­sha Con­tact the writ­ers at houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As a heat wave in north­ern China con­tin­ues, more rain is ex­pected along the Yangtze River, which flooded for the first time this year on Satur­day.

China’s na­tional weather ob­ser­va­tory is­sued a yel­low alert for the third con­sec­u­tive day on Sun­day, the sec­ond-low­est in a four-tier weather warn­ing sys­tem, for rain­storms in the south­ern part of the coun­try.

The south­ern re­gions have seen six heavy down­pours. June pre­cip­i­ta­tion in cen­tral Hu­nan prov­ince, for ex­am­ple, was dou­ble that of the same month last year.

Days of tor­ren­tial rains in Hu­nan raised the wa­ter level of the Xiangjiang River, a ma­jor trib­u­tary of the Yangtze, be­yond its record flood level on Sun­day morn­ing. The wa­ter level at Chang­sha, Hu­nan, reached 39.44 me­ters at 3 pm — the pre­vi­ous record, set by a mas­sive flood in 1998, was 39.18 me­ters .

Al­ready at 3.44 me­ters above the warn­ing, the wa­ter level is ex­pected to con­tinue to rise as heavy rains are fore­cast for up­stream re­gions over the next few days. Wa­ter at Dongt­ing Lake and in sev­eral ma­jor rivers in Hu­nan has also risen above warn­ing lev­els.

Rain be­gan to bat­ter Hu­nan on June 22, and the en­su­ing floods have forced the evac­u­a­tion of 577,100 peo­ple. Nearly 406,000 hectares of crops have been dam­aged, and 9,861 houses have been de­stroyed, ac­cord­ing to the pro­vin­cial me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal ser­vice.

A rain-trig­gered land­slide in Ningx­i­ang county led to the deaths of five peo­ple. Four peo­ple re­mained miss­ing.

Many parts of the county re­ceived more than 200 mil­lime­ters of pre­cip­i­ta­tion within 24 hours, with flood­ing dis­rupt­ing traf­fic and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, while rais­ing wa­ter lev­els in reser­voirs and rivers above warn­ing lev­els.

A search and res­cue op­er­a­tion is un­der­way.

“The wa­ter is ris­ing, and my house is in dan­ger of be­ing sub­merged. I was re­lieved when I saw a res­cue boat com­ing,” said Zhou Chang song, who was evac­u­ated on Satur­day af­ter­noon from Chenxi county, Hu­nan.

In the neigh­bor­ing Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, flood­ing dis­rupted rail­way ser­vices, with 45 trains can­celed, forced to re­turn or de­toured.

The State Flood Con­trol and Drought Re­lief Head­quar­ters has or­dered the Three Gorges Reser­voir on the Yangtze to re­duce the flow of dis­charge to 18,000 cu­bic me­ters per sec­ond to re­lieve the flood pres­sure down­stream, and launched a Grade III emer­gency re­sponse plan, the sec­ond-low­est of the fourtier na­tional re­sponse sys­tem.

In Jiangxi prov­ince, which neigh­bors Hu­nan, flood­ing was blamed for seven deaths. Two peo­ple re­main miss­ing. About 440,000 peo­ple had been evac­u­ated as of Satur­day.

Xin­hua contributed to this story.

LONG LINZHI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Aided by boat­men, res­i­dents make their way around streets flooded by heavy rain in Rong­shui Miao au­ton­o­mous county in the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion on Sun­day.

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