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660 reservoirs at risk of overflowing in China

June 21, 2011

BEIJING (AP) — Heavy rains in eastern China have put more than 660 reservoirs at risk of overflowing, an official said Tuesday.

Rain-triggered floods have swept parts of eastern and southern China this month, leaving at least 175 dead and 86 missing and causing 35 billion yuan ($5 billion) in direct economic losses, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

An official at the media department of the Anhui Water Resource Department said water levels at more than 660 reservoirs in the province were above the warning level. Like most Chinese officials, she would give only her surname, Zhao.

The official Xinhua News Agency also said in a Chinese-language report that the reservoirs were in danger of overflowing. The Anhui flood control headquarters said most of the reservoirs — more than 620 — were small, and that only three were large.

Such flooding is common every year during China’s rainy season, with reservoirs and rivers overflowing.

Zhao referred further queries to the provincial Communist Party Propaganda Department, but calls were not answered there.

Xinhua said the water levels of the Shuiyang and Qingyi rivers, both tributaries of the Yangtze River running through Anhui, had risen above the warning safety mark.

It said many of the reservoirs in Anhui had started discharging water on orders from the state flood-control headquarters.

In neighboring Zhejiang province, the operator of eastern China’s largest reservoir opened three of its nine floodgates Tuesday because of the risk of overflowing.

It was the first time the Xin’anjiang Reservoir has been forced to discharge water since 1999, Zhejiang’s flood control headquarters said.

Xinhua quoted officials as saying the release of water into the Lanjiang river wouldn’t cause havoc downstream because water there had receded below the danger level.

Update hourly