Deadly flash flood hits popular scenic area on Yellow River in Henan, China

Deadly flash flood hits scenic spot on Yellow River in Henan, China

At least 2 people died and 7 went missing on January 22, 2023, after a sudden flood swept away families celebrating the Lunar New Year on a beach downstream of the Sanmenxia dam on the Yellow River in Henan, China. The flood reportedly caused the water level in the river to rise by 1.8 meters (6 feet) in just six minutes, leaving little time for those affected to react.

According to Red Star News, the tourists had gathered at a spot 1 – 2 km (0.6 to 1.2 miles) away from the scenic area and had ignored warning signs that read “Danger, deep water.” Eyewitnesses claim that someone had broken through a fence intended to keep people away from the river.

A survivor named Qin Jialei told Red Star News that he walked to the middle of the river, about 1.5 km (0.9 miles) downstream from the Sanmenxia dam, at around 16:10 LT on Sunday, January 22.

Five minutes later, the river started rising, surging around 1.8 m (6 feet) in just six minutes until Qin was completely submerged, according to the report. Qin said he then swam to a beach around 50 (164 feet) away.

Despite reports that the sudden surge of water came from the nearby dam, officials have denied these claims. An official from the Sanmenxia municipal government stated that investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the sudden rise in water levels.

However, a source close to the incident has suggested that responsibility for the tragedy likely rests with both the municipal government and the Yellow River Conservancy Commission under the water resources ministry in Beijing. The Sanmenxia Hydropower Station, located a few kilometers upstream of the incident, is both owned and controlled by the committee.

Local officials have denied releasing water from the dam but acknowledged that some overflow of water is a part of “normal operations” ordered on a daily basis by the provincial authorities. Six of those rescued have been discharged from the hospital, while two are in stable condition.

The Sanmenxia Dam Scenic Area is located on the Yellow River in the city of Sanmenxia in the Henan province of China. The area is known for its scenic views and recreational activities, including hiking, boating, and fishing. The Yellow River, which is the second-longest river in China and the cradle of Chinese civilization, is also considered an important cultural and historical site.

The Sanmenxia Dam is a multi-purpose hydroelectric dam that was built on the Yellow River in the 1950s. The dam is designed to control floods, generate electricity, and improve navigation on the river. The dam is 185 meters (607 feet) high and 2 157 meters (7 076 feet) long. It has a total installed capacity of 1 200 megawatts (MW) and generates an average of 5 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually.

The Sanmenxia Dam is also an important part of China’s water resources management system. The dam’s reservoir is used to store water for irrigation and other downstream uses. The dam is also used to regulate the flow of water in the Yellow River, which is prone to severe flooding.

The Sanmenxia Dam Scenic Area is a popular tourist destination in China and offers a range of activities and attractions, including sightseeing, boat rides, and cultural and historical tours. The dam itself is open to visitors, who can walk along the top of the dam and enjoy views of the Yellow River and the surrounding mountains.

It’s worth noting that the dam has been criticized for its negative impact on the environment and downstream communities. The Yellow River is known for its environmental problems, such as erosion, water shortages, and the loss of biodiversity. The Sanmenxia Dam has been accused of worsening these problems, as the dam has caused the river’s water to become more saline and sediment-laden.


1 2 dead, 7 missing in China after drowning accident near Sanmenxia Dam – SCMP – January 23, 2023

2 Two die, seven missing after flash flood hits holidaymakers on China’s Yellow River – Radio Free Asia – January 23, 2023

Featured image credit: Weibo (stillshot)

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