Three Gorges Shiplock Closed to Avoid Flood Peak

The waterway of China's longest river, the Yangtze, was closed Friday at the Three Gorges at Yichang in Hubei Province as a precaution against the season's flood peak.

The pending flood crests, the most voluminous so far this year, forced the closing of the water-diversion canal and the temporary shiplock of the Three Gorges project, through which all ships must pass during construction of the world's largest hydro-power project, the China Daily reported in its Saturday edition.

Local authorities are prepared to shuttle thousands of passengers across the dam site with buses, the newspaper said.

The flood, caused by torrential rains pouring into the river in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality and other areas upstream, is expected to crest with 46,000 cubic meters of water per second passing through the construction site Saturday, navigation officials said.

The officials said that navigation must be limited at the damís diversion canal as soon as floodwater hits a volume of 30,000 cubic meters, according to the newspaper.

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2002)