Officials said China’s Three Gorges dam on Tuesday passed its biggest test since its completion in 2008 as a major flood peak brought record water flow along the Yangtze River.
The flow reached 70,000 cubic metres per second above the dam, far higher than the 50,000 cubic metres per second recorded in 1998 when floods along the Yangtze killed 4,150 people and forced the evacuation of more than 18 million people.
“The peak flow is high, but it has not exceeded the designed capacity of 100,000 cubic metres of water per second,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Cao Guangjing, chairman of the China Three Gorges Corporation, as saying.
Water was flowing downstream from the dam at 40,000 cubic metres per second on Tuesday, as experts tried to reduce the risk of major floods in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze.
Chongqing municipality, immediately, upstream from the dam, began implementing an emergency flood plan on Monday.
Officials planned to evacuate more than 16,000 people from Chongqing’s Hechuan district after evacuating another 16,000 last weekend, the agency said.
In the neighbouring province of Sichuan, Guang’an city recorded the most serious flood since 1847, affecting some more than 250,000 people.
Floods and landslides have left at least 26 dead and more than 40 missing in Sichuan over the last three days.
A landslide buried several homes in Xujiaping village in Sichuan’s Liangshan district early Tuesday, leaving at least 11 people missing.
The Sichuan towns of Quxian, Hanyuan and Tongjiang were completely cut off by floodwater on Monday, the agency said.
“Supplies of water, electricity and gas had all been cut. And instant noodles were sold out in the supermarkets,” Zhuang Hailin, a resident of Quxian, was quoted as saying.
Summer floods and landslides have already left more than 600 people dead and at least 200 missing across China this year, including about 150 deaths in the first two weeks of July.
The floods have destroyed 124,000 houses and forced the relocation of more than 1.3 million people, causing estimated direct economic losses of 29.5 billion yuan (4.3 billion dollars), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Monday.