Premier Zhu Rongji called on governments at all levels along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River to make all-out efforts to guarantee the soundness of dams and embankments as well as protect local people's lives and property.
Zhu made the remarks last week at a working meeting in Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province, when inspecting the flood-prevention work along the Yellow River.
Summing up the flood-prevention and control work, Zhu said that every effort should be made to firmly grasp the "three major links": To step up water conservation and soil erosion control work; to further reinforce the construction of flood-control projects; and to rationally utilize and strictly protect the river's water resources.
Zhu said local governments should insist on the policy of returning farmland to forest and carefully protect the existing forest and grassland resources.
The premier also called on local governments to increase investment in flood-control projects, especially in flood-vulnerable regions.
Giving five key instructions on flood prevention work during the peak flooding season, Zhu said top or major officials should take responsibility for the flood prevention work. He added that they should be on the alert regarding flood conditions around the clock.
Local governments were ordered to prepare flood prevention materials near river dams of embankment, and special urgent repair teams were directed to be available 24 hours a day.
Local water prevention committees were told to organize inspection teams to check for possible flaws in their regions, and to clear all riverside construction which could hinder flood-prevention work as soon as possible.
Though the leading concern at present is flood prevention, Zhu warned local governments not to neglect fighting drought.
According to sources in Zhengzhou, the death toll rose to 18 after a violent storm rained egg-sized hails and caused flash flooding in the province on Friday evening.
About 250 people were injured in the storm which was packed with "big winds and big thunder," said Zhang Hongjie, an official with the civil affairs bureau in Zhengzhou.
The fierce storm affected 1.29 million residents around Zhengzhou and caused a direct economic loss of at least 380 million yuan (US$46 million), according to Zhang.
Rainstorms have also battered South China's Guangdong Province since July 18, killing nine people, injuring 20 and leaving one missing in flash floods that have affected tens of thousands of people.
On Saturday a rainstorm that lasted six hours hit Hengshan Mountains, a famous scenic spot in Central China's Hunan Province, causing landslides and holding up over 2,000 tourists, a local newspaper reported.
Jiangxi and Fujian provinces in East China, and Liaoning and Shaanxi provinces in northern China, also suffered heavy or torrential rain recently.
(China Daily July 23, 2002)