All 3 of China’s Main Rivers Flooded, With Millions Living in Danger Zones

All 3 of China’s Main Rivers Flooded, With Millions Living in Danger Zones
The Three Gorges Dam is discharging flood water in Yichang, China, on July 19, 2020. (AFP via Getty Images)
Nicole Hao

All three of China’s major rivers—the Yangtze, Yellow, and Huai rivers—overflowed due to heavy rains on July 21, with water levels at most regions going over alert levels.

The three river basins are among the country’s most developed and active grain-producing regions. The rice-growing area of the Pearl River basin, suffered flooding in June. But the Chinese regime did not assess the total damage to the country’s crops.

Also, a barrage lake was formed in Hubei Province after mudslides cut into part of the Yangtze River. If the mudslides collapse, large amounts of water could suddenly inundate areas downstream. Authorities warned millions of city residents that floodwaters could enter at any time.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands in Anhui Province were in need of rescue, as they were surrounded by floodwaters without access to electricity, clean water, and telecommunications.

More heavy rain is forecast for the following days.


At 6 p.m. on July 21, China’s National Meteorological Center issued a heavy rain warning, noting that regions upstream of the Yangtze River and downstream of the Yellow River, as well as the whole basin of the Huai River, will experience heavy rain in the next 24 hours. The worst-hit regions would have 2.76 inches of accumulation within one hour.

Among the three main rivers, Yangtze River is in the south, Huai River is in central China, and Yellow River is in the north.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, the Chinese central government ordered the discharging of floodwaters in the Huai River to the Mengwa region in Anhui—the first such occurrence since 13 years ago. Quickly, crop fields in the region, including soon-to-mature soybeans and corn, were destroyed.

State-run media Xinhua reported that the water level of the Huai River reached the alert level in the early hours of Monday, meaning an embankment breach would occur along the river. To protect cities downstream from it, authorities decided to submerge the rural areas instead.

The report stated that authorities gave locals seven hours to pack up and remove valuables from their homes before discharging the floodwaters.

On Sunday, the Anhui provincial government broke two dikes and released floodwaters from the Chu River, a tributary of the Yangtze, to rural areas.

In recent days, authorities also discharged floodwaters to rural areas in Hunan, Zhejiang, and Jiangxi provinces and submerged people’s homes and farmland.

Guanyinge temple, a 700-year old temple built on a rock, is inundated in the swollen Yangtze River in Ezhou, China, on July 19, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Guanyinge temple, a 700-year old temple built on a rock, is inundated in the swollen Yangtze River in Ezhou, China, on July 19, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

This year, heavy rain also caused the Yellow River in northern China to overflow, an unusual occurrence.

Since July 1, Xiaolangdi Reservoir on the Yellow River began discharging floodwaters that accumulated, endangering the downstream region.

On July 21, floods also inundated roads along the Yellow River’s upstream in Lanzhou city. Inner Mongolia and other provinces along the river began reinforcing their river banks in anticipation of heavy rains.

Lives in Danger

Enshi city in Hubei Province, with a population of four million, asked all residents to prepare for an evacuation on Tuesday, noting that the city could be inundated by floodwaters at any time.

State-run Xinhua quoted authorities who said a mudslide that occurred near the upper stream of the Qing river—a tributary of the Yangtze—blocked the river and created a barrage lake over 16 feet deep.

“The bank of the barrage lake may break. Once it happens, the waters will enter downstream [Enshi city],” the notice read.

The city government also admitted that they discharged more floodwaters from Dalongtan Reservoir upstream of the Qing river, which may cause the water level to rise and then overflow river banks in the city.

State-run media Southern Metropolis Daily reported on July 21 evening that discharged floodwaters from Yunlonghe Reservoir, located further upstream, entered the Qing river and broke the top of the mudslide at the barrage lake.

But mudslides did not stop on Tuesday.

Due to the increased water discharge at Dalongtan Reservoir, the local water treatment plant could not get freshwater to process. The city would not have clean water in the next ten days, according to the news report.

Enshi city has been inundated since July 17. Because local reservoirs kept discharging water and rainfall did not stop, floodwaters did not recede until July 21.

10,000 People

Guzhen township in Liu’an city, Anhui is home to roughly 44,000 people. On the afternoon of July 19, floodwaters entered, submerging all connecting roads and inundating buildings.

The town became a virtually isolated island without electricity and clean water. By 2 p.m. on Monday, more than 10,000 people were still stranded inside.

A local government official told Chinese media Caixin that two reservoirs upstream from Guzhen discharged floodwaters, causing the local Ji river level to increase dramatically in recent days. After an embankment breach happened close to the town, floodwaters rushed in.

“Our mayor was dumbfounded when the floods entered,” the official said.

Locals told The Epoch Times by phone that they were in bad shape.

Chen Yan, who lives in the town center, said, “They need food… They are scared.” She left the town before the flooding, but her family members were still stuck there.

Chen said that there were many neighborhoods in Guzhen that could not be reached by boat due to the strong flood currents.

Mr. Yu’s parents, in-laws, and four children were stranded at Yutang village in Guzhen. He was anxious, as he could not reach any of them.

Caixin reported that there were more than 10 rescue boats onsite, with each boat capable of picking up five people at a time.

Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
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