BEIJING • President Xi Jinping urged more effective flood response measures and all-out efforts to protect people’s lives and assets as China elevated its national emergency response for flood control to level II, the second-highest in the country’s four-tier response system.
As many as 33 rivers in China have risen to their highest levels in history during the current wave of floods, a senior water ministry official said yesterday, as regions across the country brace themselves for another “grim” week of torrential rain.
Mr Ye Jianchun, Vice-Minister of Water Resources, told a briefing that 433 rivers – as well as major lakes such as the Dongting, the Poyang and the Tai – have all risen beyond their warning levels since the flood season began last month.
“Going into the key flood-prevention period of late July to early August, the current trends remain grim on the Yangtze and the Lake Tai basins,” he said, adding that the belts of heavy rain that have lashed central China would eventually head north.
China suffers from floods every year, but more unpredictable weather has made the task of managing them more challenging, especially with this year’s rainfall among the worst on record.
Since last month, average precipitation in the Yangtze river has reached the highest level since records began in 1961.
President Xi, in an instruction released on Sunday, instructed party committees and governments of all levels to shoulder their responsibilities and take more measures to monitor the floods and relocate people in flood-hit areas.
He ordered the relevant authorities, including the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, the Ministry of Emergency Management and the Ministry of Water Resources, to enhance coordination and mobilise rescue forces and flood relief materials.
The People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police should take an active part in the flood relief work in the areas where they are stationed, he added.
Mr Xi also instructed the relevant authorities to make plans for rebuilding work and restoring normal life and production as soon as possible, as well as to help prevent people in the flood-hit areas from falling back into poverty.
China’s flood control authorities said yesterday that nearly 38 million people have been affected by floods, with 141 dead or missing.
433 Number of rivers in China for which its Ministry of Water Resources said flood alerts had been raised since early last month, including 33 where water levels have broken historical records.
38m Estimated number of people who have been affected, including more than 2.25 million who have had to evacuate.
141 Number of people who have died or are missing, according to official figures.
$61m Relief funds to be sent to affected regions, including Jiangxi and Hubei provinces as well as Chongqing in the south-west.
$12b Estimated economic losses caused by the floods.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also announced that 2.25 million people have been evacuated due to floods.
The Emergency Management Ministry last Friday estimated economic losses at around 60 billion yuan (S$12 billion).
More than 7,000 army soldiers have been deployed to the eastern part of China, according to the Chinese military.
The flood control authorities throughout the Yangtze basin have declared “red alerts” that cover major population centres such as Xianning, Jiujiang and Nanchang.
A red alert has also been declared at the Poyang Lake, where water levels are more than 3m higher than normal, another record high.
In some flood-stricken regions, soldiers filled sandbags to shore up riverbanks and stave off more damage.
According to Water Resources Ministry data, warning levels were breached at more than 70 flood-monitoring stations yesterday.
Water levels at the Three Gorges reservoir, which cut its discharge volumes for a fifth time last Saturday to ease downstream water levels, have now hit 153.2m, 6.7m higher than the warning level.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS, XINHUA