Quake-ravaged Chinese province now battles flood threat

June 27th, 2008 - 11:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Chengdu (China), June 27 (Xinhua) China’s southwestern Sichuan province, which was hit by a 8.0-magnitude quake May 12 killing more than 80,000 people, is now battling a severe flood threat. The meteorological department in the province Friday issued a flood warning, forecasting that the summer flood is likely to be the biggest in a decade and will come at the beginning of July.

On Thursday, officials discovered three quake-formed lakes in Dujiangyan City in the province during an areal survey, which forced the authorities to evacuated about 20,000 people living in the low-lying areas to safer places.

The flood now threatens over 10 million people in the earthquake areas, many living in tents and makeshift houses.

The earthquake is a challenge to flood control in Sichuan this year, as quake-damaged reservoirs and river levees are now more vulnerable, said the provincial headquarters of flood control and drought relief.

“If the flood comes, newly-built temporary settlements for homeless quake survivors in low-lying plain will be inundated,” said worried officials in Aba Tibet and Qiang regions close to the epicentre of the killer quake.

The officials moved over 110,000 quake survivors out of the mountainous areas to a 20-km valley strip to protect them from secondary geological disasters such as landslides and mud flows in the wake of the earthquake.

The officials said if the embankments could not hold flood water in Minjiang river that flows through the earthquake zone, they would have to carry out another round of massive evacuation of those living in tents and makeshift houses at any moment.

“We have cancelled the building of temporary settlements for earthquake victims in 12 villages in Yingxiu town, because of the flood threat,” said Xiang Enming, a disaster-relief director from south China’s Guangdong Province, who is helping reconstruction in the quake-hit township in Wenchuan.

Latest figures from the flood control headquarters suggested that the earthquake has formed 34 lakes and damaged 1,803 reservoirs and 495 sections of damaged embankments in Sichuan.

“Frequent landslides along mountain slopes can produce new quake lakes at any moment. There are 56 river blockages in Mianyang city,” said An Tianyun, director of the municipal water affairs bureau.

The city is home to the largest of the quake lakes in Tangjiashan, which had forced an evacuation of more than 250,000 residents in Mianyang alone, before drainage succeeded in reducing its risk earlier this month.

However, An said that as the quake has shaken loose the geological structure, and heavy rainfall would exacerbate the disasters.

The province has mobilized round-the-clock patrolling on dangerous sites for geological disasters and flooding, with the intention of providing early warnings to minimize casualties, officials said.

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