By Monday ferocious flooding along the Huaihe River had destroyed 2.25 million hectares of farmland and 71,000 houses, causing a combined economic loss of 12 billion Yuan (approx. US$1.6 billion).
According to the latest figures from the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters Office, more than 20.42 million people have been directly affected.
Currently the damage is lower than the 1991 and 2003 floods but officials anticipate more hazardous flooding. Heavy rainfall is forecast over the next three days along the Huaihe River and the Yangtze River Valley, which includes Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei and Guizhou Provinces.
Cheng Dianlong, deputy director of the SFCDR HQ office, said that another peak in the water level was expected to be recorded at Wangjiaba, a key hydrological station along the Huaihe River, but that it should not exceed the previous high set a few days ago.
Wangjiaba, near Fuyang of east China's Anhui Province, registered a water level of 28.78 meters at noon, up 52 centimeters from the previous day. It is 1.28 meters higher than the danger line of 27.50 meters.
Headquarters has urged Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu authorities to remain on high alert. Nearly 380,000 people, including People's Liberation Army soldiers, have been recruited to assist with flood-relief efforts.
Additional rainfall is anticipated within the next three days. Officials foresee more severe flooding in the near future.
(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2007)