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China battling heavy flooding after torrential rains

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China

Central and southwest parts of the country are experiencing widespread flooding causing the deaths of hundreds and resulting in billions in damages.

China has been experiencing flooding for centuries, especially on the Yangzte River, Asia’s longest river that originates in Tibet and drains into the East China Sea. Disastrous floods in the river have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths over the years.

The Three Gorges Dam was built specifically for the purpose of holding back floodwaters and sparing those living downstream from displacement and death. It has mostly been effective but this year water level at the dam is dangerously close to the maximum limit. Despite the dam holding back nearly 35% of the water flowing downstream, the series of floodings on either side of the structure have resulted in 219 deaths and $26 billion in damages and economic losses.

The People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police have been involved in around the clock rescue and relief efforts. President Xi Jinping, who visited the families of three people who died fighting the floods in Anhui province, said the relief efforts were a practical test of the leadership of the army.

He said that China has been dealing with such natural disasters for thousands of years and has been gaining experience in it. They will continue fighting it, he said. The government has allocated 460 million yuan to support flood control and disaster relief in four regions.

In the city of Chongqing, the Yangtze breached its embankments and flooded the streets for the fifth time this year. Businesses, that were just about recovering from the pandemic, suffered another serious blow. Landslides are also being reported from across the country.

In Sichuan province, heavy rains caused landslides that killed six people even as five others are still missing. More than four million people have been evacuated across the country as monsoons reach record-breaking levels. In the countryside, the flooding has destroyed many crops, devastating rural life.

Several heritage sites and tourist spots have also been threatened. Waters have reached the feet of the 1,200-year-old and 223-foot tall Leshan Giant Buddha, which overlooks three converging rivers. According to a Chinese proverb, if the water goes over the statue’s feet, the city of Leshan will be flooded.

This is happened for the first time since 1949. Jiuzhai Valley, known for its lakes, waterfall and scenery, has also been closed to tourists due to flooding. In Chongqing, the ancient riverside trading port of Ciqikou has been completely submerged with water reaching even the third storey of buildings. Vast stretches of Hongyadong, a popular tourist destination, has been taken over by the water.

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