Heavy Rains Raise Flood Fears in Southern China

August 20, 2002

Torrential rains, which have already been responsible for flash floods and landslides that have killed an estimated 250 people, are continuing in China’s heavily populated Hunan Province, raising threats of a widespread disaster.

The Yangtze River is approaching flood levels not seen since 1998. Authorities are specially concerned about the water levels in Dongting Lake, the second largest body of freshwater in the country. The lake acts as an overflow basin for the Yangtze, and, according to a report from the BBC, is already almost five feet above the 106 foot flood warning marks.

Local authorities are working around the clock to shore up the lake’s embankments. An estimated 10 million people are directly threatened by the rising waters. When the lake last overflowed four years ago 4000 people lost their lives.

The outlook isn’t promising, as tropical storm Vongfong is moving across southern China. It’s expected to bring more heavy rainfall to the Hunan region over the next few days.

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