Floods, drought show no let-up

By Xin Dingding, Liu Weifeng and Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-30 06:43

Floods and drought continued to play havoc last week, raising the death toll across the country, with experts blaming the freaky weather conditions on global warming.

More than 700 people have been killed in floods, landslides, mudslides and storms across 24 provinces and 82.05 million have been affected.

The water level in Huaihe River has started receding but incessant showers continue in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

The Huaihe River Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said yesterday that the water level at Wangjiaba, a key hydrological station in the middle reaches of the Huaihe, dropped slightly below the danger level of 27.5 m on Saturday night. That was the lowest in 26 days.

Related readings:
Water level at key part of Huaihe River recedes
Close watch as water levels on the rise
Huaihe river dikes face risk
Wuhan on high alert as flood peak passing through
Measures along Huai River reach 'critical stage'
Three Gorges project not causing natural disasters
Chinese President inspects flood-hit southwest city
But Long Bin, spokesman for Anhui provincial flood control headquarters, warned that the southern part of the river would still be flowing above the danger level till early August.

A 100-m stretch of a dam at Huajiahu in Fengtai County of Anhui in the lower reaches of the Huaihe collapsed on Saturday.

The disaster occurred after 20 days of heavy downpours.

More than 1,000 villagers have been evacuated but no one has been reported hurt.

Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, has been battered by floods because of the gushing Yangtze.

Hailstorms and rain claimed 10 lives and injured 300 people in Hubei in the past two days, and about 1,600 people had to be moved to safer places.

Last week, heavy rain in mountainous regions of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region caused floods and triggered landslides, killing more than 90 people, stranding thousands and hampering the movement of traffic, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) said.

Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan has asked local governments to improve their disaster forecast mechanisms and protect life and property at all costs as more rain and typhoons are forecast for the coming weeks.

The MLR has sent 14 special teams to help local authorities handle possible disasters.

There are fears that the death toll in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces could rise with more rain forecast for the next few days, the Central Meteorological Station said.

Chinese experts blame the extreme weather conditions on global warming. Unbalanced distribution of rainstorms, persistent high temperatures, severe drought and powerful typhoons are all the result of climate change.

China Meteorological Administration Chief Forecaster Wang Yongguang said abnormal weather will continue to plague most parts of China this summer and in the years to come.

About 1.93 million people in South and parts of East China are facing acute drinking water shortage because of drought.

And about 1.61 million hectares of farmland in Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces don't have irrigation water, according to the website of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH) office.

Wang forecast two or three typhoons in August, saying a mild typhoon was actually good as a drought relief.

Usually typhoons hit China once or twice every June, and twice or thrice in July and August.

But till the end of this July, no major one has hit the country. "That's a clear sign of abnormal weather," he said.

"Heavy rainfall doesn't increase the total precipitation level because it is distributed unevenly over time and space," he said.

SFDH data show South and East China have received 50 percent or more rainfall this summer compared to normal years.

On the other hand, parts of North and Northeast China are in the grip of drought, considered the most serious in two decades, Xu Ying, director of the climate change monitoring and analyzing office of the China Meteorological Administration said.

Ministry of Water Resources officials said surface water in North China is shrinking fast, resulting in a 12 percent reduction in the Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers.

Heat waves are sweeping across Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

And Fujian and the Chongqing Municipality have recorded temperatures above 35 C for 20 consecutive days.

An extreme temperature of 42 C was recorded in Zhejiang in 2003 and Chongqing and Sichuan last year.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours