Heavy rains threaten more flooding across large parts of China

Large parts of China are expected to receive heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday, triggering warning of fresh floods.

Torrential rains are expected in parts of Chongqing, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu, the National Meteorological Centre said, warning that some areas would experience up to 7 inches of rainfall.

Some of these regions will see up to 70mm of hourly precipitation accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds, the Centre added.

Extensive flooding along the Yangtze and other major rivers has already displaced more than 2 million people and affected millions more.

Many parts of China, from provinces as far apart as Sichuan in the southwest and Gansu, over 1,000km to the north, have seen heavy rainfall over the past two months and the waters of many rivers in the affected regions have reached dangerous levels.

At Lake Tai, on the border of the wealthy coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, water levels have exceeded the safe limits for nine consecutive days, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

The Changjiang water resources commission, which is responsible for the Yangtze basin, also issued a warning about rapidly increasing water levels upstream and in the Three Gorges reservoir.

The water authority said the water flow in the reservoir would hit 60,000 cubic metres per second, one of the fastest rates ever recorded.

The Three Gorges Dam, which spans Asia’s longest river, was built mainly to generate electricity, but the Chinese government also said it was expected to mitigate catastrophic flooding.

Enshi city in western Hubei province issued an emergency alert on Sunday morning, and the county government has been evacuating people along the Guangrun river due to severe floods.

Last week, authorities had to blow up parts of a dam on the Chu river in eastern Anhui province to reduce water levels.

According to state news agency Xinhua, since July, flooding has affected 23.8 million people in 24 provinces. A total of 31 people are reported missing or dead and more than 2 million people had to be relocated. The economic losses are estimated to amount to be US$9 billion.