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Flooding this year in China will not reach 1998 levels: officials

08-05-2010 09:29 BJT Special Report:China Fights Worst Flood in Decades |

BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- China's top flood control authority on Wednesday discounted the possibility that this year will witness huge floods or related crises akin to those of 1998.

"Based on the current situation, there will be no disasters as serious as those in 1998," Shu Qingpeng, deputy director of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said in an interview with the central government website www.gov.cn.

A flood historic in its magnitude struck the Yangtze River in 1998, causing all sections of the river to surge above their warning levels, claiming the lives of over 2,300 people.

"The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River remain slightly above their warning lines", Shu said, "but water levels in these parts and in the Three Gorges Dam have been declining."

China' s disaster prevention capabilities, he added, have improved markedly in the past decade, strengthening the nation's ability to fight floods.

"The main dikes of the Yangtze River have been reinforced in the past few years," he said. "In 1998, over 9,000 dangerous incidents happened in main dikes, but this year, no big danger occurred barring one breach."

The Three Gorges Dam, he added, has played a vital role in flood reduction.

But Shu also warned that parts of the Yangtze River, the upper reaches of Hanjiang River in central China and Northeast China's Songhua River are still swollen as heavy rains continue to batter the regions.

Rain-triggered floods have left 1,072 people dead and 619 others missing so far this year in China.

Shu said China's major rivers, including the Yangtze, the Yellow and the Songhua rivers, were all swollen to danger levels after heavy rains, which had inundated more than 160 cities across the country.

Eight small reservoirs collapsed during the rainy weather, meanwhile, and another 1,000 reservoirs remain at risk, he said.

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