Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More than 600 killed, millions impacted by Yangtze flooding

Agence France-Presse: Floods and other disasters killed at least 600 people in China's Yangtze River basin during this year's May-October rainy season, when serious flooding ravaged much of the nation, state media reported. The disasters affected about 90 million people along the country's longest river and destroyed 440,000 houses, Xinhua news agency said in a report late Tuesday.

Yangtze flooding from space (NASA).

The events caused direct economic losses of 43 billion yuan (5.7 billion dollars), it said, quoting a report by the official Yangtze River Water Resources Commission. The report said no serious flooding occurred along the river itself but that frequent extreme weather events ravaged nearby areas.

China's massive Three Gorges Dam on the river's middle reaches was built partly to control the annual floods that have long plagued Yangtze communities. The report did not specify the "other disasters" but officials have reported frequent landslides along the river's banks, believed caused by the growing reservoir behind the dam, the world's largest hydro-electric project.

At least 1,100 people died across the country this summer from flooding and other extreme weather, according to previously released official figures, which some state meteorologists attributed to climate change. Several areas of the nation suffered record-breaking downpours.


Katharine English said...

I am curious as to whther this flooding was caused dowstream of the Three Gorges Dam, perhaps because of the flow of tributaries such as the Han-Shui at Wuhan. Has the Three Gorges realized its purpose of flood copntrol?

Brian Thomas said...

I don't know the answer to your interesting, well-taken question -- it certainly be worth knowing whether 3GD is at least achieving its stated purpose.

Katharine English said...

Thanks, Brian. I also wonder if the worrisome prediction - that Shanghai, which rests on shifting sediment which originally was renewed with new sediment flowing down the river - has become more unstable because the replacement sediment has been trapped by the dam. I can't find any followup reserach - can someone lead me there?