Jun 18

China raises flood alert to top level, 555,000 evacuated (Reuters, Jun 17, 2011):

China has mobilized troops to help with flood relief and raised its disaster alert to the highest level after days of downpours forced the evacuation of more than half a million people in central and southern provinces.

The official China Daily said more than 555,000 people had been evacuated in seven provinces and a municipality after rains in recently drought-stricken areas caused floods and mudslides in the Yangtze River basin.

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May 26

Severe drought has forced China to release 5bn cubic metres from Three Gorges reservoir for irrigation and drinking water

The dried up Yangtze river in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. The severe drought has forced a massive release of water from China’s Three Gorges reservoir for irrigation and drinking water. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty

The Yangtze – Asia’s biggest river – is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years, forcing an unprecedented release of water from the Three Gorges reservoir. The drought is damaging crops, threatening wildlife and raising doubts about the viability of China’s massive water diversion ambitions.

Between now and 10 June the dam will release 5bn cubic metres of water – equivalent to the volume of Lake Windermere in Britain every day – as engineers sacrifice hydroelectric generation for irrigation, drinking supplies and ecosystem support.

The drastic measure comes amid warnings of power shortages and highlights the severity of the dry spell in the Yangtze delta, which supports 400 million people and 40% of China’s economic activity.

From January to April, the worst hit province of Hubei has had 40% less rainfall than the average over the same period since 1961. Shanghai, Jiangsu and Hunan are also severely affected.

Regional authorities have declared more than 1,300 lakes “dead”, which means they are out of use for irrigation and drinking supply. Shortages affect 4.4 million people and 3.2 million farm animals, according to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

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Jul 21

Estimated 700 people killed this year as landslides and high water levels causes billions of pounds in damage

Floodwaters in south-west Chongqing municipality, after torrential rains hit areas along the Yangtze river.

Flooding in China this year has killed 701 people, left 347 missing and caused billions of pounds in damage, a senior Chinese official has said.

Three-quarters of China’s provinces have been hit by flooding and 25 rivers have seen record high water levels, causing the worst death toll in a decade, Liu Ning, general secretary of the government’s flood prevention agency, told a news conference.

Aside from the dead and missing, 645,000 houses were toppled and overall damage totalled 142.2bn yuan (£13.7bn). All the figures, Liu said, were the highest China had seen since 2000.

With the flood season far from over, this year is shaping up to be one of the most devastating since 1998, which was the worst in 50 years.

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May 30
Roads are cracked in the Huang Gu Po district of Badong on the lower reaches of the Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges dam was so vast and sweeping a vision that nothing could stand in its way. Not the old cities of the Yangtze valley, storehouses of human toil and treasure for more than a thousand years. Not the lush, low-lying farmlands, nor the villages, nor even the pagodas and temples that graced the riverbanks.

The cries of dissenting scientists and the lamentations of more than a million Chinese people forced to leave their ancestral lands counted for nothing.

When the waters rose to 570ft last year, drowning all these things, it marked a triumph for the engineers at the top of the Chinese Communist party.

But in the past six months a sinister trail of events has unfolded from the dam all the way up the 410-mile reservoir to the metropolis of Chongqing.

It began with strange, small-scale earthquakes recorded by official monitoring stations and reported by the Chinese media.

Mysterious cracks split roads and sundered schoolhouses and apartments in newly built towns and villages on the bluffs looking down on the river.

The local government now says that 300,000 people will have to move out in addition to the 1.4m evicted to make way for the dam.

More than 50,000 residents have already been relocated owing to seismic problems that were not foreseen when the dam was built, according to the state news agency, Xinhua. Continue reading »

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