China flooding kills 701 in worst toll in a decade
BEIJING — A senior Chinese official says flooding this year has killed 701 people, left 347 missing and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the worst toll across the board in a decade.
Liu Ning, general secretary of the flood prevention agency, told a news conference Wednesday that flooding has occurred across three-quarters of China's provinces and 25 rivers have seen record-high water levels.
He says in addition to the 701 dead and 347 missing, 645,000 houses have been toppled and overall damage has totaled 142.2 billion yuan. All the figures, Liu said, were the highest China had seen since 2000.
BEIJING (AP) — Rescuers in China were searching Tuesday for 30 people buried in landslides as flood waters from days of heavy rain surged past the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest.
Soldiers used bulldozers to plow through debris in search of survivors on Tuesday in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, while workers in other parts of the country scrambled to drain overflowing reservoirs and pile up sandbags to prevent further flooding, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Three people were killed late Sunday night by landslides in Lingao county in Shaanxi province that also left 17 missing, Xinhua reported. In all, flooding and landslides from rain-soaked hillsides in Shaanxi have killed 37 and left another 97 missing.
In nearby Sichuan province, rescuers searched for 13 missing people after a landslide hit Xujiaping Village on Tuesday morning, burying homes and blocking roads, Xinhua reported.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said that the death toll from summer storms stood at 146 with another 40 people missing as of Friday, a tally certain to rise as flooding continues. Much of the worst-affected areas lie along the Yangtze River Basin.
Xinhua and state broadcaster China Central Television reported that the Three Gorges Dam was facing its highest water levels ever when a flood crest passed the dam Tuesday morning.
The government cited flood control along the Yangtze as one of the main reasons for the $23 billion dam project that forced the relocation of 1.4 million people.
80,000 servicemen and militiamen work strenuously in frontline of flood-fighting
(Source: PLA Daily) 2010-07-20
Because of the recent strong precipitation, an overwhelming flood peak was formed at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The water level of the Yangtze River valley has been shooting up constantly and the flood-control and flood-fighting situation is grave. Nearly 80,000 servicemen and militiamen are working strenuously in the frontline of flood-fighting and relief operation and another 100,000 servicemen and militiamen are ready to back them up at any time.
At 13:00 on July 18, a sand dredger crushed the Muli Bridge on the Nieshui River, a branch of the Yangtze River, in Huangpi District of Wuhan City in Hubei Province which made 10,000-plus villagers suffer from traffic inconvenience thus incurred. After more than 10 consecutive hours’ efforts by a pontoon bridge brigade，a 100m-long floating bridge was finally erected. Currently, nearly 30,000 servicemen and militiamen are working strenuously in the frontline of flood-fighting operation in Hubei Province.
At wee hours on July 19, the flood peak ran through the Zhouhe River in Dazhou City of Sichuan Province. Dozens of hardest-hit streets in the main urban area of Dazhou City were drowned and all traffic of Dazhou leading to the outside was disrupted. The Dazhou Military Sub-Command and the Dazhou reserve artillery brigade under the Hubei Provincial Military Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) organized more than 10,000 militiamen and reservists to rescue 8,177 stranded people.
At wee hours on July 17, the communication in the areas of Wanyuan and Dazhou was held up due to the damage on the optical cable by mountain torrents and mud-rock flows. After more than 43 consecutive hours of efforts made by the officers and men of a communication general station under the Chengdu Military Area Command of the PLA, the national defense and civil optical cable measuring more than 160 km from Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, to Chongqing Municipality was finally restored.
Chinese villagers helpless in face of devastating floods
By Damian Grammaticas BBC News, Guang'an, Sichuan province
20 July 2010 Last updated at 11:54 ET
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas observes the rescue effort in Guang'an
As we stood by the edge of the flooded streets in Guang'an's old town, a middle-aged woman suddenly rushed forward from the crowd.
Clasping a bucket and a bag she dived into the filthy brown waters, flailing her arms.
She was so desperate to get to her flooded home that she was trying to swim there. A couple of policemen leapt in after her and carried her back to safety.
In long lines stretching back from the edge of the flood more people stood and waited.
Some were carrying food to take to stranded relatives, others held brushes and brooms hoping to clean the debris from homes and shops as the water receded.
Every few minutes a rescue boat appeared, cruising down what was, two days ago, a busy street.
Now the water was lapping at the roof of the shops.
Soldiers rescue a stranded man in Guang'an Soldiers rescue those stranded by the floodwaters from the river Qu
The boats would pull in, deposit another load of people who had been picked up from their cut-off homes, and then load up with those hoping to get in to the flooded area.
One woman in the queue said it was the worst flood she had ever seen.
"The health clinic where I work is on the ground floor of the building. It was completely underwater. Now I am waiting to see if I can go back. "
Mr Ye, whose family has a shop selling pianos and musical instruments, said they had lost almost everything.
"Our shop was totally submerged. We thought the flood would only affect the street level so we moved things up to the next floor. But that was submerged too.
"I estimate we have lost up to 60,000 yuan (£5,800)."
The flood was caused by the river Qu, which flows down from the mountains and sweeps through Guang'an in a broad curve.
Continue reading the main story
This flood is the worst since 1847 - before it happened we managed to move people who were in danger”
End Quote Li Yong Ping Guang'an's district administration
On Monday, after days of torrential rains here in Sichuan in south-western China, the Qu rose.
It breached its banks and poured down the streets of the old town. All day the water kept on rising.
Li Yong Ping, head of Guang'an's district administration, overseeing the rescue efforts told us no one had seen anything like the flood in living memory.
"This flood is the worst since 1847. Before it happened we managed to move people who were in danger.
"So now we are focusing on cleaning up the area and making sure no disease breaks out here," he said.
The rescue and clean-up were impressively organised. Teams of police in military fatigues manned a fleet of boats.
They handed a bright orange life-jacket to each person they took on board.
Groups of government office workers had been despatched to help sweep away the thick layer of silt that had covered the streets.
So men and women in their smart office clothes waded gingerly through the thick sludge wielding brushes.
A group of electrical repair men turned up to install waterproof street lights. All the while public loudspeakers played old, cultural revolution-era songs to keep up people's spirits.
It is not only Guang'an that has been affected. Torrential rains have been falling for weeks across a swathe of central and southern China and they have caused huge damage across almost a dozen provinces.
Villagers stand in front of their houses destroyed by floods in Yunnan province Floods have damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 homes in China
Downstream from Guang'an, the waters from the Qu river flow into the Yangtze, and then into China's massive Three Gorges dam.
On Monday night the dam experienced the biggest surge of water since it began operating four years ago.
The level in its reservoir rose 4m (13ft) in just a day, reaching a depth of 150m - just 20m below its maximum.
China's authorities were trying to limit the flow of water out of the dam to try to contain the flood surge and protect areas downstream.
But there too there have been days of heavy rain. Tributaries flowing into the Yangtze have been flowing at danger levels and embankments have been weakened by the rain so more flooding has happened.
In July alone at least 146 people have died, drowning in the floodwaters or buried by landslides.
More than 100,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and 13 million people been forced to seek temporary refuge.
Taming the Yangtze
In Guang'an nobody lost their lives, but plenty have lost all they had worked for.
The Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province The Three Gorges Dam was designed to try to tame the destructive power of the Yangtze
We waded through the mud and the rubbish floating on the waters to reach Mr and Mrs Lou's shop on Nan Xing street.
The couple, in their 50s were trying to sweep the muck deposited by the river out of their hardware store, but it was an almost hopeless task.
Everything was sodden and coated in a layer of sticky brown silt.
This flood season has been one of the deadliest in years for China.
The Three Gorges Dam was designed to try to tame the destructive power of the Yangtze.
The dam may have helped limit the surge of water but still the sluices have been open and huge volumes have flowed downstream.
So it hasn't been able to stop the floods from affecting millions, both above the dam as in Guang'an, and below it too, as the summer rains have poured down.