Yangtze at risk of bank collapses

By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-14 06:57

Flood-control inspectors have discovered hidden dangers along the Yangtze River, raising concerns at a time when State metrological authorities have warned of the possibility of major floods hitting this summer.

During a recent inspection organized by the office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, inspectors found that the banks along some sections of the Jingjiang River, a section of the Yangtze River, could be at risk of collapse, the People's Daily reported yesterday.

The newspaper quoted Luo Huilin, deputy secretary-general of Jingzhou's city government, as saying that collapses had been occurring with increasing frequency along the Jingjiang River in recent years.

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The latest bank collapse happened in Shishou on March 22, when a section measuring 30 m long and 8 m wide crumbled.

"Such a collapse would be disastrous if it happened during the flood season," Luo said.

He called on local government bodies to reinforce the banks and dredge the waterway before the flood season to make sure there were no accidents.

Li Chunsheng, an official with the Hubei provincial office of flood control, said some sections of the Yangtze River in the province had been blanketed with silt or eroded since the great flood in 1998, which caused more than 3,000 deaths.

Li said the provincial government had allocated 30 million yuan ($3.9 million) to prevent collapses, and that 21 vulnerable banks would be reinforced before this summer.

According to the China meteorological administration, it is likely that a big flood will hit the Yangtze River, the longest river in China, this summer because of heavy rain and typhoons along its middle and lower reaches.

As a result, efforts to repair damaged banks have been accelerated in the whole Yangtze River valley.

So far, the authorities have reinforced 2,259 km of riverbanks, dredged 5,093 km of river bed and improved 2,833 reservoirs.

Cai Qihua, vice-commander-in-chief of the Yangtze River Flood Control Headquarters, said 10 provinces and municipalities along the river had mapped out anti-flood plans and had signed responsibility contracts with the headquarters.

In Southwest China's Guizhou Province, the provincial government will spend about 30 million yuan ($3.9 million) this year to repair 100 problematic reservoirs.

Statistics show that there are more than 85,000 reservoirs in the country, of which 30,000 have serious problems, including 200 large and 1,600 medium-sized reservoirs.

Jiao Yong, vice-minister of water resources, earlier described the problematic reservoirs as "time bombs" that were threatening the lives and property of people living downstream.

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