141 dead or missing in floods in China

Beijing: Over 140 people have died or are missing in the catastrophic floods that have been wreaking havoc in China since last month, affecting more than 37 million and damaging 28,000 houses, media reports said on Monday.

China’s State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters upgraded the emergency response for flood control from level III to level II on Sunday, as incessant downpours continued across vast stretches of the country.

Over 2.24 lakh people have been relocated as China faces “flood catastrophe” with 433 rivers in spate, testing the strength of some of the water barrages including the world’s largest Three Gorges Dam.

The floods have affected 37.89 million people in 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. Since June, 141 people are dead or missing, and 28,000 houses have collapsed, state-run CGTN quoted the Ministry of Water Resources as saying.

The water levels of 433 rivers in China have crossed the danger mark since early June, with 33 of them rising to historical highs.

The water level of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, on Sunday hit record-high. The Eastern Zhejiang Province raised its flooding emergency response to the top level along the Qiantang River.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday called for the greatest efforts to brave challenges and to go to the frontline of flood prevention and rescue and relief work to ensure the safety of people’s lives and property.

Noting that the water in the Yangtze River, Huaihe River, as well as in Dongting Lake, Poyang Lake and Taihu Lake has exceeded warning levels, and regions including Chongqing, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu and Zhejiang have seen severe floods recently, causing casualties and property losses, Xi said the flood prevention situation is grim, state-run China Daily reported.

Authorities should take more effective flood control measures and do solid work in monitoring and early warning, safety hazards checking at dikes and reservoirs, emergency response and resettlement of the affected people, Xi said.

A front-page report in the official daily Global Times said: “China faces flood catastrophe”.

Zhang Boting, a senior analyst at the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, told the Global Times that with the Three Gorges Project, the mainstream water level could remain low by holding the water in the upper reaches of the Three Gorges Reservoir, with Poyang Lake and other tributaries being able to discharge water into the Yangtze’s mainstream.

The Yangtze’s reaches are much safer than they were in 1998, Zhang said.