WUHAN, July 2, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers evacuate trapped villagers after a dike breach in Xinzhou District of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, July 2, 2016. Heavy rainfall caused a dike breach on the Jushui River in Xinzhou District of Wuhan Friday. More than 700 rescuers were sent there to evacuate stranded villagers. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
WUHAN, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese disaster relief authorities and experts said on Saturday that flood control efforts shall be ramped up to brace for severe floods along the Yangtze River as intense downpours continue to batter its drainage area.
Chen Guiya, deputy director of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee, said there is absolutely no room for slack in the flood control efforts as several river banks have suffered damage by floods.
"Flood control facilities, especially main dikes, along the Yangtze River have been reinforced since 1998 to stand severe floods, but rising water levels have damaged many riverbanks in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze, posing great danger," Chen said.
A similar El Nino effect triggered heavy flooding on Yangtze and led to more than 1,320 deaths in 1998. Experts said main dikes on the Yangtze are not likely to be damaged by floods like they were in 1998, but severe floods are likely to hit its tributaries.
Chinese meteorological authority on Saturday evening renewed its orange alert for heavy rain in the south and southwest of China in the coming three days.
The harsh weather conditions will lead to more disasters in the coming days, according to the Yangtze flood control headquarters. It ordered local authorities to remain on top alert, properly deploy relief forces and issue timely warnings to the public.
Yangtze saw its first flood peak at 2 p.m. Friday. The Three Gorges Dam increased water discharge to allow the peak to pass through.
The heaviest rainfall this year battered Hubei Province on Saturday, leaving at least 22 people missing or dead. Water levels of the Jushui River, a major Yangtze tributary, rose by more than eight meters in a day, inundating at least 23 villages. Thousands of soldiers, firemen and relief workers are working around the clock to repair the breaches.
On Saturday, soldiers in the Macheng city of Hubei used a tonne of explosives to bomb the sluice channel for the Xianggudun reservoir, which is located near several key railway and highway lines. A dam breach of the reservoir could put about 70,000 lives in danger.
According to the committee, the Yangtze River has seen 16 rounds of strong rainfalls since mid-March. Levels of 43 rivers along Yangtze have surpassed the safe limit.
Precipitations along the Yangtze have been 20 percent more than previous years. Water level on the Dongting Lake is about one meter higher than previous years, while water level of the Poyang Lake, China's largest body of fresh water, is two meters higher than the level in previous years.
"Consistent rainfall has swelled most lakes and reservoirs in Hubei, and more rains and future floods will bring even greater tests," said Wang Zhongfa, director of water resources department in Hubei.