At least 14 people died in the latest round of seasonal rains and floods in southern China, as soldiers and workers constructed makeshift barriers on Saturday using sandbags and rocks to keep the Yangtze River and its tributaries at a distance.
Three gates of the Three Gorges dam spanning the Yangtze were opened when the water level behind the massive dam rose more than 15 meters above the flood level, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The dam was holding about 45 percent of the water, Xinhua said, citing China Three Gorges Corp.
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Upstream, 11 people were killed in Chongqing on Saturday morning, the China National Emergency Broadcasting said in an online report, citing the municipal emergency agency. More than 20,000 people were evacuated and 1,031 houses destroyed.
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Three landslides in the city of Dunhao in a mountainous part of Chongqing have left six people dead, the city’s emergency management office said. The bodies were found Friday evening after more than 200 people were dispatched for a search and rescue operation. Rainfall in Dunhao city totaled 39 centimeters, the office said.
Three more people have died in neighboring Hubei province, the emergency management service said in a social media post.
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Public television station CCTV showed that people are cleaning still wet and muddy streets and shops in Enshi town after severe flooding on Friday. Rescuers used inflatable rafts to rescue more than 1,900 people trapped in their homes and other buildings.
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Downstream, firefighters and others finished filling a 188-meter (620-foot) breach in a dike at Lake Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, Xinhua said.
The dam broke nine days ago, flooding 15 villages and agricultural fields in Jiangxi province, the news agency said. More than 14,000 people were evacuated.
Incoming water is expected to peak behind the Three Gorges Dam on Saturday, but more water is expected to arrive around Tuesday, Xinhua said. The hydroelectric dam is used to mitigate catastrophic flooding.
Seasonal floods hit large parts of China every year, particularly in its central and southern regions, but rainfall has been exceptionally high this year.
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About 1.8 million people have been evacuated and direct losses from the floods are estimated at more than 49 billion yuan ($ 7 billion), according to the Emergency Management Ministry.
Large cities have been spared so far, but concern has grown over Wuhan and other downstream cities that are home to tens of millions of people.
The worst flooding in China in recent years occurred in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and nearly 3 million homes were destroyed, mostly along the Yangtze.
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