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Anhui Declares State of Emergency as River Reaches Flood Peak
A state of emergency has been declared in east China's Anhui Province as one of the country's major rivers, the Huaihe River, reaches flood peak.

The emergency order, issued by Anhui Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, took effect at midnight on Friday.

Water levels in the middle and upper reaches of the Huaihe River are in the danger zone at most check stations due to continuous heavy rain, despite flood diversion effort.

"The task of flood control is too demanding and challenging for us this year," an anonymous official with the Huaihe River Flood Control Headquarters said.

To reduce flooding in the main channel of the river, the headquarters yesterday started to divert water into another river. The move follows Wednesday's opening of sluice gates at the Wangjiaba dam, at the juncture of the river's middle and upper reaches.

The Huaihong diversion river, which links the city of Huaiyuan and Hongzehu Lake on the river's lower reaches, can handle a maximum flow of 2,000 cubic meters per second. Water was flowing at 7,000 cubic meters per second in the Huaihe River at Huaiyuan yesterday.

More torrential rain is expected in the Huaihe River Valley, with downpours and hailstorms forecast in Henan and Anhui provinces.

The opening of the sluice gates on Wednesday forced the evacuation of more than 1,400 people in danger zones in the four flood diversion areas in Anhui Province.

More than 100,000 people live in the 13,000 hectares of diversion areas, but most are safe because they live on higher ground.

Though the opening of sluice gates at the Wangjiaba dam has eased water levels in the Huaihe River, they are still above the safety line because of continuous rainfall in the river's upper reaches.

Wang Shucheng, Minister of Water Resources, recently said the country's flood control focus will switch to the Huaihe River from the Yangtze and Yellow rivers this year because the latter two are well contained by embankments.

About 800 years ago, as the Yellow River deviated from its original course and began to flow through the lower reaches of the Huaihe River, it forced the Huaihe River to flow into Hongze Lake. As a result, the Huaihe River experienced frequent blockages and became highly prone to flooding.

On June 28, the Huaihe River started flowing directly into the Yellow sea through a 163.5 kilometer-long manmade waterway.

Wang said the project is key to prevent floods on a scale seen every 100 years in the lower reaches of Huaihe River.

But the embankments along the river's upper and middle reaches still need to be reinforced.

Over the past 10 or more years, the Chinese government has earmarked more than 23.5 billion yuan (US$2.83 billion) for 18 key flood control projects along the Huaihe River.

(China Daily July 5, 2003)

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