Water levels in Hunan Province’s Yueyang city rose above the alert level, meaning an embankment breach could occur at any time, officials said.
Meanwhile, China’s largest lakes, the Dongting and Poyang, which are in the Yangtze River’s drainage area, and the 620-mile-long Huai River, have been above the alert stage for days.
While large swaths of the country have experienced historic flooding since early June, the regime’s top officials have been conspicuously absent. No high-level official has yet visited the disaster areas, as their predecessors did to put a positive spin of the government’s disaster relief efforts.
Officials warned on July 29 that heavy rain would hit northern China and might spark heavy flooding by the Hai, Yellow, and Songhuajiang rivers. Since northern China doesn’t typically experience flooding, residents of northern and northeastern China, especially those living in the drainage areas of the Yellow and Huai rivers, were asked by authorities to make emergency preparations in case of a disaster.
As of July 29, authorities said that millions from 27 Chinese provinces have been affected by flooding since June, including 158 people dead or missing, while 3.76 million people have been left homeless.
In such cases, it’s difficult to assess the true damage and number of casualties.
The emergency response ministry also hosted a seminar on July 29, urging local governments in the Yangtze and Huai river drainage areas to ensure the safety of local dams.
After heavy water intake for weeks, “the dams face the perils of landslides, caving in, water rushing out of pipes, and collapse.”
To ensure their structural integrity, the ministry instructed governments to arrange for people to patrol the dams 24 hours a day.
At 8 p.m. on July 27, the third peak of flooding arrived at China’s largest hydroelectric project, the Three Gorges Dam. Since then, the water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir has been rising, according to state-run newspaper Changjiang Daily.
By late on July 29, the peak of the flooding passed the area of the dam, and moved to the midstream region of the Yangtze. With that, the metropolis of Chongqing, located upstream, announced that ships could operate again, after the city had banned all ships from the river on July 26 due to rising water levels.
While Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province and located midstream of the Yangtze, reported higher river levels, the peak of flooding hadn’t arrived as of late July 29.
Meanwhile, a surge in water level on the Han River, which drains into the Yangtze in Wuhan, could cause the Yangtze to overflow there, the Yangtze River commission within the Water Resources Ministry said.
China’s National Meteorological Center is forecasting that the Yangtze River’s upstream region in Sichuan Province, as well as the river’s midstream in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, would be hit by heavy rainfall again in the next 24 hours.
The center then issued an alert that eastern and southern Sichuan, southwestern Jiangxi, and southeastern Hunan could be faced with mudslides.
With the rivers located both midstream and downstream of the Yangtze reporting that they have topped alert levels, additional heavy rain and a third peak of flooding could leave these areas susceptible to severe flooding.