China destroys dam with explosives to release flood waters

China blasted a dam on Sunday to release surging waters amid widespread flooding across the country that has claimed hundreds of lives.

State broadcaster CCTV reported the dam on the Chuhe River in Anhui province was destroyed with explosives early Sunday morning, after which the water level was expected to drop by about 2 feet.

Water levels on many rivers, including the mighty Yangtze, have been breached danger mark due to torrential rainfall.

Blasting dams and embankments to discharge water was an extreme response employed during China’s worst floods in recent years in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost 3 million homes were destroyed.

Last week, the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze opened three floodgates as the water level behind the massive dam rose more than 15 metres above flood level. Another flood crest is expected to arrive at the dam on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, soldiers and workers have been testing the strength of embankments and shoring them up with sandbags and rocks. On Saturday, firefighters and others finished filling in a 188-meter  break on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, that had caused widespread flooding across 15 villages and agricultural fields in Jiangxi province.

Flooding has been a major threat to much of central China for centuries, but experts say the widespread construction of dams in recent decades have cut off connections between rivers, lakes and floodplains and have exacerbated flooding.

The rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers due to climate change may also be a cause of more dangerous summer flooding.