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China races time to combat floods, relocate residents


Since the start of the flood season, various regions across China have been experiencing heavy and prolonged rains, which has led to flooding in some areas as well increased risk of dike breaches.

Government agencies handling meteorology, water conservancy, natural resources, and urban and rural development have provided flood control instructions for 18 rain-affected regions, including Hunan, Shandong, Henan and Shaanxi. Local governments are prioritizing the monitoring of rain and flooding, while also creating contingency plans and reinforcing flood control facilities.

On Sunday, China activated a Level IV emergency response to flooding in Shandong and Sichuan provinces. Torrential rain is forecast from July 7 to 13 across the southern part of Shandong, and heavy rainfall will be strengthened across the Sichuan basin from July 8 to 14. China has a four-tier emergency response system for flood control, with Level I being the most severe response scenario.

As of Sunday night, about 3,631 people in Linyi, a city in Shandong, were affected by the rain-triggered flood, and 1,939 people were transferred to safe places.

During a meeting held on Sunday, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) urged local governments in 10 flood-stricken regions to intensify patrols along levees and reservoirs to mitigate potential risks.

Central China's Hunan Province is currently the worst-hit place with a notable dike breaching on Friday at Dongting Lake, the country's second-largest freshwater lake, located in a county administered by the city of Yueyang. The burst, which was initially about 10 meters wide but expanded to over 200 meters in a day, caused flooding in Tuanzhou Township, Huarong County.


According to Hunan's flood control and drought relief headquarters on Sunday afternoon, 7,680 residents from the affected area had been relocated and urgent measures had been taken to repair the breach. As of Sunday noon, over 80 meters of the 226-meter breach in the dike had been sealed, and officials promised that the dike would be fully sealed by noon on Tuesday.

So far, thousands of rescuers, including firefighters, hydrologists, volunteers and police, have been in Hunan to reinforce embankments, conduct rescue operations, and relocate people, including more than 700 officers and soldiers from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Southern Theater Command air force. A work team from the MEM has also been dispatched to Hunan to guide rescue efforts.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, said on Sunday that it has allocated 200 million yuan (about $28.05 million) from the central budget to aid disaster relief and restoration in flood-stricken Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. The money will be used to fund the emergency recovery of flood-damaged schools, hospitals, flood control facilities and others in the two provinces.

Additionally, emergency supplies have been dispatched to evacuation and resettlement areas for the affected residents, including 470,000 supplies from enterprises and 80,000 from relative social organizations.

At a vocational school dormitory in Huarong County, more than 700 affected residents are being housed. In addition, students have volunteered to take necessities such as food and groceries to the villagers.

"Thanks to door-to-door visits by township officials and loudspeaker warnings in the village, my husband and I evacuated in time," said Ye Yanjiao from Tuanbei Village, who is in her 70s. "We feel safe staying here," she added.

According to staff at the resettlement point, over 120 volunteers are working hard to provide services and support at the school.

(With input from Xinhua)

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