The administration of China's longest river Yangtze issued an emergency warning on Wednesday, reminding cargo ships to avoid being stranded in the low water due to the lingering dry season.
Since November, the average water level in the middle reaches has decreased by 1.5 meters than normal, mainly because of less rainfall in the dry season, according to Yangtze River Administration under the Ministry of Transportation.
More than 10 ships have been stranded in the section that mainly encompasses Yichang, Wuhan, Jingzhou of Hubei Province and Jiujiang, Hukou of the neighboring Jiangxi Province, over the past month.
Every cargo ship must undergo weight checks at eight harbors in Yichang City, the start of the middle reaches of the river, and unload excessive goods before continuing the voyage, according to a circular issued by Yichang Maritime Bureau in succession to the warning.
An average of 170 cargo ships will navigate along the route every day.
The administration has sent off a number of dredgers to dig out silt in the river and ships are called on to pay attention to safety while passing through the section.
The Yangtze, China's longest river which stretches 6,300 km, suffers a dry season between November and April. This is followed by a spring flood.
Usually, the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, built between the upper and middle reaches of the river, will unleash water reserves to alleviate the drought or hold up floods before they inundate downstream regions.
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2007)