China blasts dam on Yangtze tributary to ease flooding, death toll climbs to more than 150

China blasts dam on Yangtze tributary to ease flooding, death toll climbs to more than 150

Authorities in central China have blasted a dam on the Yangtze River tributary on Sunday, July 19, 2020, to ease surging waters amid severe flooding. The grim situation has left millions affected, damaged more than 28 000 houses, and caused more than 150 fatalities-- 23 of which were reported since Thursday alone, July 16.

According to state broadcaster China Central Television, the dam on the Chuhe River in Anhui Province was blasted with explosives early Sunday, and the water level was expected to drop by 700 mm (28 inches).

Water levels on hundreds of rivers, including the Yangtze, have been unusually high due to extremely heavy rains this season-- 33 of which even crossed historical highs.

In the past week, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze opened three floodgates as the water level behind it surged to more than 15 m (50 feet) above flood level. Another surge is expected to occur at the dam on Tuesday, July 21.

Officials and workers have been testing the strength of embankments elsewhere, shoring them up with rocks and sandbags.

On Saturday, July 18, firefighters and other crews finished filling in a 188 m (617 feet) break on Poyang Lake-- the largest freshwater lake in China-- which had caused widespread flooding across 15 villages. Authorities evacuated more than 14 000 people.

More than 150 people have died in flooding and landslides brought on by the torrential downpours-- 23 of them since Thursday solely. More than 28 000 houses were damaged and 38 million people remain affected.

The worst-hit provinces are Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Hubei, Fujian, Guangdong, Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Hunan, and Anhui. Meanwhile, the flood alert fort the Huai River was raised from Level 3 to Level 2.

The China Meteorological Administration forecasts more heavy rain over most parts of the affected provinces.

Featured image credit: CGTN/YouTube

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