Continuous rainstorms have continued to raise the water levels of many rivers across China, putting the lives of millions of people at risk and causing huge economic losses.
The water level of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River has continued to rapidly rise, with many sections exceeding the danger line.
Wuhan, the capital city of central China's Hubei Province, is on high alert as the level of the Hanjiang River, a main tributary of the Yangtze that passes through the city, rose to 27.85 meters at one point on Thursday, 35 centimeters above the danger line.
The local authorities have stepped up patrols along dikes and sluice gates and have prepared sandbags and soil for possible breaches. Further emergency rescue drills will be held on Friday.
The water resources commission of the Yangtze River said the water level, which is the highest so far this year, would continue to rise over the next few days.
Downpours have affected more than 52 counties and cities in Hubei since Saturday. More than 1.39 million people from the 13 worst hit counties were affected. Cropland covering 100,700 hectares was damaged, incurring economic losses of 241 million yuan (US$31.8 million).
Meanwhile, the fourth flood crest since early July is expected to arrive on Friday at Wangjiaba, a key hydrological station of Huaihe River in east China. The prediction is based on continuous rain. Trunk streams of the river have been swollen for 18 days. The water level has exceeded the danger line by at least 0.5 meters, according to the Anhui Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.
A total of 27,000 people scattered around three towns of Anhui Province were ordered to complete their evacuation by 7:00 PM Friday, officials said.
The towns, namely Linbei, Daxin and Mohekou, were in danger as water level in the Linbei section of Huaihe River was four meters above the farmland outside dikes, said Lu Ying, Vice Head of Linbei township government.
The water level was at 20.48 meters at 8 AM on Friday; the danger line is 19.9 meters.
The three towns combined have 27,000 residents and 2,400 hectares of farmland.
Many residents chose to lodge in the houses of their relatives and friends, while others dwelled in 1,400 tents that stretched seven kilometers along a main levee.
Loudspeakers announced the evacuation order and described flood situations in villages on Friday morning. Officials and police went door to door to ensure that all the people would be evacuated in time.
The local authorities have provided every villager with 400 yuan (US$53) for the evacuation.
In the southwestern province of Guizhou, a new round of rainstorms hit at least 24 counties over the past day, causing many river water levels to rise or exceed the warning line. About ten large and medium-sized reservoirs have seen their water levels breaking the limits. They were forced to open sluice gates, affecting 320,000 people and incurring 106 million yuan (US$14 million) in economic losses, according to the provincial flood control office.
One was killed and two others were injured in a landslide that hit Baimang Township in the southeastern part of Guizhou on Wednesday. More than 3,000 people from Pingtang County have been evacuated after a total of 10,000 were stranded in the flood since Wednesday.
In northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 32 people were killed and three went missing in rain-triggered floods over the past ten days.
By July 16 of this year China's death toll from natural disasters was 715 with 129 people missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2007)