Floods are receding but heat will stay

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Scorching temperatures in South China are expected to continue into the end of this month as the national forecaster warned of more rainstorms in the river basin areas of the Huaihe River in coming days.

A man stands on the roof of his home, which is steeped in water in the ancient town of Liye in Longshan county, Hunan province, on Tuesday. [Photo/China Daily]

A man stands on the roof of his home, which is steeped in water in the ancient town of Liye in Longshan county, Hunan province, on Tuesday. [Photo/China Daily]

The rainstorms have given way to lingering heat waves in parts of Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces in the past two days, and the hot days and warm nights are expected to continue until the end of the month, according to the National Meteorological Center.

"The area will be in the firm grip of a belt of atmospheric high pressure in the coming days, which means the heat will linger there in the foreseeable future," He Lifu, chief forecaster with the center, said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

High temperatures in South China, expected to be about 35 to 39 degrees, could even extend to the beginning of next month, unless a typhoon comes and interrupts, He said.

Meanwhile, in North China the heat is expected to disperse starting from Thursday after the arrival of a cold front, he said.

Zhang Jianzhong, deputy chief of the meteorological service office of the center, said the lingering heat could raise the level of energy consumption in South China and increase risks of heatstroke.

The national forecaster said that the basin area of the Huaihe River could experience two sweeping rainstorms starting from Thursday, which could trigger flash floods and landslides in Henan and Anhui provinces.

The strongest rainstorms are expected to occur on Thursday and Sunday, with some areas expected to receive precipitation of about 250 millimeters during the period.

"It is vital for people in those areas to keep close tabs on the weather alerts and react in time to the early warnings by authorities," Zhang said.

It is still difficult to forecast whether Yangtze River areas will experience similar flooding to that of 1998, forecaster He said.

"The patterns of El Nino and the subtropical ridge are all similar to that of 1998. But it is still too early to know whether we can expect a similar lingering rainfall," he said.

In 1998, the basin areas of the Yangtze River experienced more than 70 days of torrential rainfall. Those storms eventually triggered a major flood that left at least 1,800 people dead, with more than 100 million people affected.

Floods triggered by heavy rain left 22 people dead and 15 others missing in South China since Saturday, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Ancient relics saved from damage

Bamboo slips dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) have been preserved unscathed despite a major flood inundating the ancient town of Liye in Longshan county, Hunan province.

"Only the first floor of the Liye Qin Slips Museum has been flooded. But to prevent the flood from damaging the bamboo slips, they have been relocated to the third floor of the museum together with some other cultural relics," said Zhang Jun, a county official.

The flood, which inundated the ancient town, began to recede on Wednesday, reducing the flooded area to 0.75 sq km from 2.1 sq km on Sunday.

Some 3,000 residents were still homeless on Wednesday.

Located at the juncture of Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou provinces and Chongqing municipality, Liye, which means "to explore" in the Tujia language, was inhabited by humans 6,000 years ago.

In 2002, archaeologists unearthed nearly 40,000 pieces of Qin Dynasty bamboo slips there.

The county has excavated the largest number of Qin bamboo strips, on which people wrote before the invention of paper. Only 10,000 Qin slips had been found before this major discovery.

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