Worst flooding in 56 years hits E China province

 Published: 6/20/2011 7:56:04 AM GMT
Xinhua Original Cached

  Citizens sit in boats on the floodwater in downtown Lanxi, east China's Zhejiang Province, June 20, 2011. The flood peak, 33.75 meters in water level, reaching the highest since 1955, battered Lanxi Monday. Citizens in dangerous conditions were evacuated to safe places. (Xinhua/Ge Yuejin)

HANGZHOU, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Two people were killed and another person is still missing after heavy rains inundated the Qiantangjiang River basin in east China's Zhejiang Province over the weekend, local authorities said Monday.

Rain-triggered floods, the worst one since 1955, have hit 10 of the province's cities, with more than 4.41 million people affected by the floods, according to the latest information from the province's flood control and drought relief headquarters.

About 8,400 houses collapsed and many highways were closed. A total of 241,600 hectares of farmland have been destroyed and 1,846factories have suspended operations in the province, one of China's leading manufacturing centers, incurring 7.69 billion yuan (1.18 billion U.S. dollars) in direct economic losses.

In Lanxi City which was worst hit, more than 70 km of dikes are close to overflowing, an official with the provincial flood-control headquarters said Monday.

Heavy rains began to pound Zhejiang on Saturday afternoon. Water levels in the Lanjiang River, which passes through Lanxi, have risen sharply since Sunday, said Zhao Fayuan, deputy director of the headquarters.

The river saw a peak water discharge rate of 12,500 cubic meters of water per second at 8 a.m. Monday. The river's water levels had reached 33.75 meters, the highest recorded since 1955, the headquarters said.

Several sections of the city's dikes are barely holding, Zhao said, adding that more than 20,000 people could be affected if the dikes are breached.

The headquarters initiated an emergency flood control plan on Monday. The city of Lanxi has already relocated residents who were threatened by the rising waters and has sent laborers to reinforce the city's dikes.

About 80,000 of the city's residents have been evacuated so far.

Zhao said the rising water levels of the province's major rivers have made flood control efforts more difficult.

The floods also caused power outages in 728 villages in Zhejiang. Electricity in 105 of these villages had yet to be restored as of 11 a.m. Monday.

More than 3,100 boats have been stranded on an inland water transportation route near northern Zhejiang's Huzhou Port since June 15 when all ship locks were closed. Over 10,000 boat crew have been threatened by food and water shortages, the local maritime affairs department said Monday.

The provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters has decided to open floodgates on the Xin'anjiang Reservoir, which is located on the upper reaches of the Qiantangjiang River, in order to relieve the effects of the floodwaters, said Wang Chunlai, deputy director of the headquarters.

Rainstorms will continue for three to five more days in the region, with thunderstorms likely to occur in some areas, according to the provincial meteorological station.

Heavy rains have struck provinces across China in recent weeks, including Hubei, Anhui, Jiangxi, Yuannan, Gansu and Xinjiang.

Rain-triggered floods that have swept south China since early this month have left 175 dead and 86 missing so far, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday.

The weekend's heavy rains affected 467,000 people in 17 counties and led to direct economic losses of 836 million yuan in east China's Jiangxi Province. About 40,000 people were evacuated and 720 homes were destroyed as a result of rain-triggered floods.

In southwest China's Yunnan Province, five people were killed and another remains missing after surging floodwaters swept through a pair of rural villages on Sunday.

Four people remain missing after flash floods struck northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Sunday.

Heavy rains have also battered northwest China's Gansu Province since June 15, triggering floods that have affected over 19,000 people and destroyed 474 homes so far.

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