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  Experts: Prepare for the worst of floods
(WANG YING, China Daily staff)

Heavy rain has battered much of the country in recent weeks, sounding the alarm over the approaching flood season.

Governments at all levels should prepare for possible large floods and work towards controlling the deluges, Hui Liangyu, vice-premier and also director of the State Flood-Control and Drought Prevention Headquarters in Beijing, said over the weekend.

His warning came ahead of downpours and a sudden temperature fall in the capital on Sunday night.

Above-average rainfall is likely across the country from June to August, said meteorologists with the China Central Meteorological Observatory.

In the lower Yangtze River valley and southern China, more rain than normal is expected this year, meteorologists said.

The Yellow River valley and areas further north also face the prospect of more rain than they have experienced in each of the past four years.

The main flood season usually occurs in June, July and August for most of China, meteorologists said.

The floods occur along tributaries of major rivers. At present, however, the main channels of China's biggest rivers, including its longest, the Yangtze, are flowing normally, they said.

The Beijing headquarters for flood-control and drought prevention has sent investigators since mid-April to flood-prone areas to check their anti-flood measures and works.

Nanchang, capital of East China's Jiangxi Province, plans to invest 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) in the coming two years to upgrade its outdated drainage system.

The city has been plagued with seasonal floods in its downtown districts, due to poor plumbing.

Meanwhile, with torrential rains expected in late June and early July, Jiangxi provincial government is on alert and has worked out contingency plans in the event of flooding.

In mid-May, the worst flood in a decade hit the Xiangjiang River basin in Central China's Hunan Province.

Flooding caused by downpours reportedly killed 50 people, while another 29 went missing.

Provinces and regions that experienced heavy rainfall in mid-May and early June also included Guangdong and Guangxi in South China, Jiangxi and Fujian in East China, and Guizhou in Southwest China.

Apart from leaving scores of people homeless, serious flooding in Guangdong resulted in economic losses estimated at more than 620 million yuan (US$74.7 million).

Xinhua contributed to the story

(HK Edition 06/23/2003 page2)


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