China issues alert as Yangtze River braces for more rain

China issued a “level three” alert as the medium-to-lower reaches of the Yangtze River braced for more heavy rain, the China Meteorological Administration said on its website today.

Heavy downpours, including storms and torrential rain in some areas, will affect parts of Jiangsu, Hunan, Zhejiang, Anhui and Hubei provinces as early as tomorrow, the forecaster said. Landslides, floods and mudslides may occur as the soil becomes loose after a recent drought, it said.

Flooding has killed 94 people along the medium-to-lower reaches of the Yangtze River this month, with another 78 people missing, according to a China National Radio report yesterday. The region had previously suffered from a drought.

Yangtze shipping halted

Drought on China’s Yangtze river has led to historically low levels that have forced authorities to halt shipping on the nation’s longest waterway.It was barely three meters near Wuhan, the Chang Jiang Waterway Bureau said yesterday.

A day earlier, the bureau closed a 228-kilometer stretch above Wuhan to sea-going vessels, fearing ships would become stuck on the bottom.

Further up the river, the massive Three Gorges Dam, the world’s biggest hydroelectric project, has discharged more water to alleviate the drought conditions down river.

It was not immediately clear if the measures would be effective as the drought in areas around the middle reaches has levels at the lowest point in five decades, the China Daily said.

At least two ships have just been stranded, with that part of the river cut to an average width of about 150 meters.

According to Wang Jingquan of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee, slowing the Yangtze with the controversial Three Gorges Dam has aggravated the drought by diverting flow to the lower reaches.

The 6,300-kilometer Yangtze is indispensable to the economies of many cities along its route.

Yangtze shipping halted – The Standard