China’s Three Gorges Dam to see largest ever flood peak since construction; 100,000 people evacuated

Over 100,000 people were evacuated from the upper reaches of China’s Yangtze river as flooding threatened a 1,200-year-old World Heritage Site.

Volunteers and police used sand bags to protect the 71-metre (233-foot) Leshan Giant Buddha, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southwestern Sichuan province, as muddy water rose over its toes for the first time since 1949.

READ: Historic floods wet feet of giant Buddha statue first time in 70 years

Sichuan, situated along the Yangtze, raised its emergency response to the maximum level on Tuesday to cope with a new round of torrential rainfall.

The Yangtze Water Resources Commission, the government body that oversees the river, declared a red alert late on Tuesday, saying water at some monitoring stations was expected to exceed “guaranteed” flood protection levels by more than five metres (16.4 feet).

The Three Gorges Project, a massive hydroelectric facility designed in part to tame floods on the Yangtze, is expected to see water inflows rise to 74,000 cubic metres per second on Wednesday, the highest since it was built, the Ministry of Water Resources said.

The project restricts the amount of water flowing downstream by storing it in its reservoir, which has been at least 10 metres (33 feet) higher than its official warning level for more than a month.

The facility was forced to raise water discharge volumes on Tuesday in order to “reduce flood control pressures”, the water ministry said.