El Nino brings dire warnings of floods

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A vehicle is trapped on a flooded road along the Liujiang River in Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

A vehicle is trapped on a flooded road along the Liujiang River in Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Continuing heavy rainfall has caused the rise of the river's water level to 79.93 meters on Monday morning, 2.57 meters lower than the warning level. [Photo/Xinhua]

Flood control authorities issued alerts for more than 40 rivers in southern China as weather forecasters warned of more heavy rainstorms likely to bring floods in coming days.

"The amount of rain in the area will be far above the same period in previous years," the China Meteorological Administration, the State forecaster, said in a news release on Tuesday.

Torrential rains in South China have so far resulted in the flooding of small and medium-sized rivers in six areas, including Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to Yang Kun, a news officer at the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

"Water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, as well as Dongting and Poyang lakes, are 1.5 to 2 meters higher than the average level in previous years," he said.

He added that water storage in reservoirs and lakes in the middle and lower Yangtze basin are 20 percent higher than the same period in previous years.

The forecaster said a new round of storms began on Tuesday in some areas, with another wave expected to hit central and southern China on Wednesday. Some areas in Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangxi are expected to see total precipitation of between 70 and 120 millimeters.

Looking further ahead, the forecaster predicted another series of strong storms through Monday. Total precipitation could reach 100 to 250 millimeters in parts of the region, it said.

Liu Ning, secretary-general of the headquarters and vice-minister of water resources, said during an inspection trip last month that it was highly likely the Yangtze area will see major flooding this year as a result of the strongest El Nino in history.

In a statement on the website of the Ministry of Water Resources, Liu said the situation this year is similar to 1998, when massive flooding along the Yangtze, Songhua and Nenjiang rivers claimed thousands of lives.

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