Up to 33 rivers in China have reached their highest level in history after days of torrential rain, said a senior official in the water ministry, with more rain forecast.
Ye Jianchun, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, said at a briefing Monday that 433 rivers – as well as major lakes like Dongting, Poyang and Tai – had all exceeded their alert level since the start of the flood season in June.
“Entering the key flood prevention period from late July to early August, current trends remain bleak in the Yangtze and Tai Lake basins,” he said, adding that the belts of heavy rain that hit central China would eventually head north. .
Average precipitation is at its highest level since records began in 1961.
State news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday that the country’s largest river, the Yangtze, had started to recede from the previous peak of 28.77 m to 28.74 m (94.38 ft at 94, 29 ft).
The emergency ministry said on Friday that 141 people were dead or missing, and economic losses are estimated at 60 billion yuan (8.57 billion US dollars).
Flood control authorities throughout the Yangtze basin have already issued “red alerts” for major population centers such as Xianning, Jiujiang and Nanchang.
A red alert was also declared at Poyang Lake, where water levels are more than 3 meters (9.84 feet) higher than normal, another record.
Warning levels exceeded
In some areas affected by the floods, soldiers filled sandbags to support the banks of the rivers and avoid further damage. The city streets were flooded, rescuers wading through the water to their hips with inflatable boats to reach people trapped in houses turned into islands.
According to data from the Ministry of Water, alert levels were violated on Monday in more than 70 flood monitoring stations.
The water level in the Three Gorges Reservoir, which reduced its discharge volumes for the fifth time on Saturday to mitigate downstream water levels, has now risen to 153.2 meters (502.62 feet), 6, 7 meters (21.98 feet) higher than the alert level.
The Chinese meteorological office said that although parts of the southwest will see a temporary respite from the heavy rains on Monday, central and eastern China will continue to suffer the brunt of the storms.
Authorities, however, have dismissed fears of a possible repeat of the devastating floods that hit the country in 1998, according to the state-owned Global Times.
Analysts also said that although the situation is likely to be difficult in the coming weeks, China had made significant investments in water conservation initiatives, particularly the Three Gorges project, and had improved emergency response in recent years.