Record rainfalls produce flooding in NE China

By Cui Jia and Liu Mingtai (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-05 07:20
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CHANGCHUN - Rivers in Northeast China's Jilin province are swollen with floodwaters after record rainfalls, while more rain has been forecast over the next two days, the weather bureau in Jilin said on Wednesday.

The Yalu and Tumen rivers have seen the highest precipitation in local meteorological history, reaching 256.5 millimeters and 147 millimeters, correspondingly, in the past two weeks.

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The figures are 213 and 230 percent more, respectively, than in normal years, officials said.

Breaches of the embankments occurred in Nong'an county of Jilin of the swollen Songhua River, after the Fengman Dam opened four sluice gates in preparation for another round of downpours on Wednesday.

"About 6,000 people from 1,710 households in Nong'an were evacuated before the rainfalls begin", Wang Wei, deputy chief of the flood control and drought relief headquarters of Nong'an county, one of the hardest-hit areas in the province, told China Daily on Wednesday.

Wang added that, as of 7 pm on Wednesday, no casualties had been reported in Nong'an.

About 1,700 officials, soldiers and residents have joined in the rescue effort, while bracing for the coming downpours.

China's National Meteorological Center forecast on Wednesday that rainstorms would sweep most parts of Northeast China over the coming three days.

The rain-triggered floods have also destroyed at least 51 reservoirs as of Wednesday, according to the provincial government.

Premier Wen Jiabao urged local officials to increase efforts to repair reservoir damage and prevent further flooding during his inspection visit to Jilin province from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Wen further pledged to provide accommodation for people whose homes were damaged by floods before winter begins.

The province's Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture, which borders the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to its south, had suffered the worst floods in over one hundred years this year, with nearly one-fourth of its 2.18 million residents affected by the extreme weather, according to the local government.

Torrential rains and floods have toppled 6,847 houses, forcing the evacuation of more than 86,000 people in Yanbian.

Some of the evacuated residents have been moved to schools and factories on higher ground.

Also on Wednesday, water supplies at Tonghua city of Jilin partly resumed 96 hours after the water pipes were destroyed in floods.

"The water came out at around 1:45 this afternoon, when I was waiting there with the tap turned on," a 43-year-old resident named Zhu Shujuan told China Daily, as she used a plastic bucket to keep the tap water.

After Zhu was told that Minqiang complex, the community she lives in, would be one of the first to be flooded, she took a leave from work to wait at home, she said.

"At this moment, water is still coupled with excessive rust," Zhu said in the afternoon.

However, residents who live on higher floors of the Minqiang complex still needed to queue at the fire trucks to get government-provided domestic water.

"Only the residents who live on the first and second floors have received tap water", an official who requested anonymity told China Daily.

Even after the water is fully resumed, he added, it might not be provided around the clock.

Xinhua contributed to this story.