Holes blown in dikes to control floods in China

BEIJING: Five people have died and more than 370,000 have been evacuated as huge holes were blown in dikes in east China to tackle flood waters that are at record highs, officials said yesterday. 

More than 21 million people are affected in Anhui province alone with economic losses put at 4.8bil yuan (RM2.2bil). 

Seven controlled explosions on dikes on the Huaihe river in Anhui took place to release water that has been rising since late last month into flood diversion areas, the Xinhua news agency said. 

The raging torrents of water submerged roads and farmland in the major grain-producing belt, but there was no information on how much property had been swallowed by the deluge. 

A flood control official said at least five people had died in the floods so far and more than 5,000 had been injured or had become ill. 

“Until now five people have been killed and 5,371 people have either been injured or have got disease. 

“370,000 people have been relocated. These people lived in the areas threatened by flooding or in the flood discharge areas,” said Wang Hua, an official in the disaster relief section of the Anhui Department of Civil Affairs. 

Twenty-one million people (in Anhui) have been affected by the flooding, of which 14 million are suffering seriously from the rising waters, he said, adding that millions of hectares of farmland had been ruined. 

The river has been running at more than 26m, prompting President Hu Jintao to wade into the drama, demanding that dikes must not be breached. 

He told the country's top flood control officials “to give top priority to the protection of people's lives” and to do everything possible to prevent the outbreak of disease. 

Thousands of soldiers have been thrown into the fight to reinforce dikes along the Yangtze river and other stretches of the threatened Huaihe, a tributary of the Yangtze. 

A state of emergency was declared at midnight on Friday in the region where, according to the weather service, rain will continue for several days. – AFP  

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