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Water flow remains above warning level
( 2003-10-06 09:23) (China Daily)

The fifth flood crest this year on the Weihe River, the largest tributary of the Yellow River mainly in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, began to fall slowly yesterday as the water level dropped 4 centimetres over several hours, officials said.

Premier Wen Jiabao (C) grasps hands with a villager displaced by the recent floods along the Weihe River, in Hua County in China's central province of Shaanxi, on the National Day, October 1, 2003. Premier Wen and his entourage visited the flooded areas and met some of the 120,000 villagers displaced by the floods. [China Photo]
Officials with the provincial flood-control and drought-relief headquarters said that Weihe's water flow at the Huaxian Hydrological Station fell to 2,710 cubic metres per second by 9 am yesterday from the peak flow of 2,810 cubic metres per second at 6:30 am.

Although the water level has dropped, the water flow is expected to remain above the warning level of 2,000 cubic metres per second until tomorrow morning, one official said.

Refugee camps are installed in Huayin in China's central province of Shaanxi, for people displaced by floods, on September 8, 2003. [China Photo]
The fifth flood crest on the Weihe River was formed last Friday, with a water flow of 2,660 cubic metres per second recorded at the Lintong Hydrological Station. Around 130,000 people in Huaxian County had to be evacuated.

About 50,000 people are patrolling dykes along the river 24 hours a day.

Since late August, the Weihe River has experienced its worst flooding in 20 years. The flooding inundated over 200 square kilometres of land. More than 300,000 people overall have been evacuated.

The floods in Shaanxi have led to 123 people being reported killed or missing.

The provincial government has allocated 27.7 million yuan (US$3.3 million) to help flood victims rebuild their houses and resume a normal life.

Inner dykes of the Yellow River along the Lankao County section in Central China's Henan Province have been affected by several breaches, with floodwater surging downwards and posing an imminent threat to more than 86,000 local people in the river's lower reaches in East China's Shandong Province.

Liu Xueshan, deputy head of Dongming County in Shandong, said the Lankao dykes "are no longer able to keep back the flood water, which is flowing over the river's inner dykes towards nearby shoal areas on the lower reaches.''

Three breaches along the river -- one 200 metres long and two others 100 metres long -- are gushing and spurting out water to inundate plains in western Shandong, endangering the lives of over 86,000 locals in 127 villages and submerging 10,800 hectares of cropland, he said.

The main riverway yesterday was discharging 2,500 cubic metres of floodwater per second east towards the river's mouth.

As the only three roads to the outside have all been cut off by the surging flood water, the affected areas are facing increasing difficulties in evacuating most of the local residents, said Yuan Min, director of the Disaster-Mitigation and Relief Office of the Civil Affairs Bureau in the city of Heze, which includes Dongming County.

He said that, of all those under siege, only 5,593 people have been transferred -- mostly the elderly, the sick and disabled, and children. Those who have relatives with whom they can stay have been moved to nearby counties by boat. The remaining people are staying on higher ground or terraces and even on rooftops.

According to Liu, the flood water has risen to as high as the level of the Yellow River. The water level in the flooded plain has reached up to 3.5 metres, he said.

"Seventeen flood-fighting teams are working around the clock on the levees, and 56,000 people have been organized to help ship local people and reinforce the high platforms,'' Liu added.

As part of its emergency relief effort, the Heze government has given flood victims 405 temporary tents, 15 tons of wheat flour, 5,000 boxes of instant noodles, 8,000 bottles of mineral water, 2,000 cotton-padded quilts and items of clothing, 6,000 metres of plastic sheeting and 10 tons of diesel oil.

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