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Alert raised as water levels keep rising

Firefighters evacuate an older woman from waist-deep floodwaters in Lu’an, Anhui province, on Sunday. ZHANG RUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Floodwaters kept pouring into the Three Gorges reservoir with a flow rate close to the location’s record high in 1998 for a long period over the weekend, amid alert-triggering and even higher water levels in the Yangtze River’s middle and lower reaches.

As of 8 am Saturday, the flow of water into the reservoir reached 61,000 cubic meters per second, which had approached the highest level that Yichang, the city where the reservoir is located, endured when it suffered devastating floods in 1998, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

The rate remained unchanged until at least 6 pm Saturday, and figures on the website of the Changjiang Water Resources Commission showed that it had declined to 53,000 cubic meters per second by 2 pm Sunday.

Yichang, Hubei province, is the demarcation point dividing the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze.

Flood control workers block a gate in Shouxian county’s fortifications with sandbags on Saturday. HUANG BOHAN/XINHUA

With a capability to handle a water level of up to 175 meters, the reservoir, which was completed in 2006, saw its water level rise to 160.17 meters on Saturday, according to the China Three Gorges Corp.

The ministry said it has instructed the company to increase outbound flow from 33,000 to 37,000 cubic meters per second.

As the Three Gorges Dam is tested by the biggest flood it has experienced so far this year, the water levels in most of Yangtze’s river courses in its middle and lower reaches remain above their warning levels and some even reached record highs.

While major floods may occur in the Huaihe River, the water level in Taihu Lake, the country’s third-largest freshwater lake, keeps rising slowly and has remained above the warning level for over 20 days, according to the ministry.

“The flood control situation is extremely grim,” it said.

Shouxian county in Anhui province stands unaffected on Saturday after its moat swelled due to recent downpours. The moat is part of fortifications built in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to keep the county safe from flooding. HUANG BOHAN/XINHUA

Jiangsu province raised its flood alert to red, the highest level, for the Yangtze’s Nanjing section at 9 am on Saturday after the water level at the Nanjing hydrological station in the provincial capital rose to 10.26 meters as of 7:50 am, exceeding the previous high of 10.22 meters, which was recorded in 1954, said the local water resources department.

Anhui province activated a Level I emergency response-the highest in a four-tier emergency response system-for flood control at 6 pm on Saturday. At present, water at the Yangtze’s mainstream in Anhui and the Wangjiaba hydrological station of the Huaihe River in the province has exceeded warning levels.

Due to continuous swelling in the Chuhe River, the authorities in Chuzhou, also in Anhui, demolished two sections of dikes to divert floodwater from the river.

However, more torrential rains are still expected in many areas along the Yangtze.

Seven rivers in Hunan, Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces are being lashed by heavy rainfall that started on Saturday and is expected to continue until Monday. The basin of four of the Yangtze’s major tributaries-the Jialing, Minjiang, Tuojiang and Hanjiang rivers-is forecast to be engulfed by heavy rainfall lasting from Tuesday to Thursday, the ministry said.

Residents salvage whatever they can as flood hits the Zhongmiao Temple scenic area near Chaohu lake in south of Hefei, Anhui province, on July 19, 2020. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

A businessman carries a refrigerator on a wooden boat as flood hits the Zhongmiao Temple scenic area near Chaohu lake in south of Hefei, Anhui province, on July 19, 2020. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

A commuter stands in waist-deep floodwaters at the pedestrian street of the Zhongmiao Temple scenic area in Heifei, Anhui province, on July 19, 2020. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Residents are evacuated by bus from the flood-hit areas in Sanhe town in Feixi county of Hefei city, Anhui province, on July 19, 2020. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

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