Sichuan braces for worst flooding in seven decades, at highest alert
Updated 20:56, 18-Aug-2020

Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Tuesday morning raised the emergency response for flood control to Level I, the highest in the four-tier scale.

Local media said it was the first time that the provincial authorities had done so. 

Flooding at record levels is expected along the Qingyi River, while high water level is also forecast to continue at the lower reaches of the Dadu and Minjiang rivers.

As a result, the province's flood control and drought relief headquarters decided to raise the emergency response as the situation remains grim.

The Changjiang Water Resources Commission (CWRC) issued onn Sunday an orange flood warning for the Jialing River and its tributary Fujiang River on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River (Changjiang in Chinese) in Sichuan. As per the latest monitoring data, the region has started experiencing the "Flood No.5"this year. 

Areas in Sichuan Province being heavily impacted by the new round of torrential rains and floods. /CGTN

Areas in Sichuan Province being heavily impacted by the new round of torrential rains and floods. /CGTN

Warning jumps

According to statistics from the Sichuan Climate Center, from August 10 to 15, the accumulated rainfall as detected at ten locations in the province exceeded the average accumulated rainfall in August.

On August 11 and August 14, Sichuan saw two consecutive rounds of heavy rains. 

From August 14 to 16, the Sichuan Meteorological Observatory issued a rainstorm warning for three consecutive days, from blue to yellow and then to orange. As of Monday, traffic on 10 spots on highways and 71 locations on other main roads in Sichuan had been disrupted by continuous rains and flash floods, according to the province's transportation department.

Rainstorms have been recorded in 12 percent of the area in the province. Forty-one rivers had above-alert and over-preserved water levels. And 22 of these reached the normal safe level, with twice the floodwater level recorded during the flood season last year.  


Affected areas

Both urban areas and villages have been heavily impacted by the new round of torrential rainfall since August 10.

Towns have been flooded as well as farmlands with consequential disruptions to traffic flow. The flood prevention dike in the section of the Mingtai Hydropower Station reservoir in Xinde Town, Santai County, Mianyang City, on the main stream of the Fujiang River, was reported to be of risk of bursting, leading to more than 5,000 people to evacuate. At present, those regions are still in emergency state and rescue and aid operations are underway in an orderly manner. 

The water levels of rivers in cities like Ziyang, Leshan, Neijiang and other towns have been rising. And the rain triggered one of the biggest floods in a century in Ya'an City, which neighbors Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu. The flood was mainly caused by elevated water levels in the Qingyi River that flows through the city.

Leshan city, south of Chengdu, also saw heavy floods.

Flooding in Huanglongxi Ancient Town in Sichuan Province, southwest China. /CGTN

Flooding in Huanglongxi Ancient Town in Sichuan Province, southwest China. /CGTN

Heavy rainfall is forecast for Chengdu as well. According to preliminary statistics, 107,000 people in Chengdu and five others cities were affected and more than 40,000 people have been relocated, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said on Wednesday.

In Mianyang city of Sichuan, two heavy-haul freight trains with totaling 8,100 tonnes in weight were pulled onto the Fujiang River Bridge by locomotives on Monday afternoon to help thwart the impact of floods. Continuous rain since Saturday night has caused the Mianyang section of Fujiang River to exceed warning levels, posing a serious threat to the safety of the railway bridge.

Emergency rescue efforts

The rain has now eased up but the heavy flooding has already caused huge economic dents in  the lives of residents. 

Available data suggests over 60,000 people have been relocated to safety in the cities of Mianyang, Chengdu, Guangyuan and Deyang with no deaths reported. Rescue and recovery missions are still underway.

The Huanglongxi Ancient Town in Sichuan has been shut and its 5,000 permanent residents evacuated.

The Deyang Fire Department sent in lifeboats and personnel. /CGTN

The Deyang Fire Department sent in lifeboats and personnel. /CGTN

The western Sichuan Basin and the eastern part of the plateau area in western Sichuan have also been hit hard.

With a history dating back more than 1,700 years, the town was a popular tourist spot that attracted tens of thousands of visitors per day. The economic losses are unprecedented.

"I am 55 years old. I have never seen such a huge flood. This is the first time. Every household has lost tens of thousands," said a resident and hustle owner in the old town.

Firefighters and police and military officers have been working non-stop to look for and help trapped people.

(CGTN's Xu Xinchen, Wu Siyang, Li Yang and Bai Xinglong contributed to this story.)