Heavy Rainfall, Flooding Submerges Regions Across China

June 28, 2020 Updated: June 28, 2020

Heavy rainfall has caused severe flooding in 26 Chinese provinces, with more than 11 million people losing their properties in the disaster, according to authorities.

But locals suspected that authorities were also secretly discharging water in reservoirs that had filled up with stormwater, worsening the flooding.

China’s Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) announced that since June, the water levels of more than 198 rivers in the country had reached their warning levels, meaning the banks may burst if the water cannot be discharged.

It also said that the water levels of 25 rivers had reached higher than their warning levels on June 28—meaning people’s lives were at risk.

More heavy rain is forecasted for those regions. The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) posted a “yellow alarm” notice on June 28, second out of the four-level warning system. It means that rainfall has reached 50 millimeters (about 2 inches) or more for the past six hours.

Specifically, the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu, as well as Shanghai, will experience heavy rain in the next 24 hours. The worst rainfall can reach 200 millimeters (7.874 inches).

Yichang, the city just below the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, suffered severe flooding on June 27 due to the rainfall.

Water filled the basements of many structures in the city. Netizens shared videos of pedestrians who fell into the sewer and cars being washed away by the flooding.

The Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze river. Since mid-June, upstream regions of the river have experienced heavy rainfall, filling up its reservoir.

Residents told The Epoch Times that they suspected authorities had secretly discharged water from the Three Gorges reservoir.

“It rains every year during this season. This year’s rainfall is not any heavier than previous years. Why did the flooding hit Yichang this year?” Mr. Zhang said via a phone interview on June 28. He added that the excess water from the reservoir likely made it difficult for rainwater to discharge into the Yangtze river, thus causing the flooding.

Wang Weiluo, a Chinese hydrologist currently residing in Germany, previously told The Epoch Times in an interview: “The reservoir is a very fragile system. When it faces safety risks due to too much water, it will discharge without warning,” he said.

The state-run dam operator, China Three Gorges Corporation, indirectly confirmed that it had discharged water from the reservoir. On June 23, the company said in an announcement that at 10 a.m. that day, “all 82 of our corporation-owned hydroelectric power-generating units at the Three Gorges, Gezhouba, Xiluodu, and Xiangjiaba dams were put into operation. This is the first time that all of them were operating in 2020.”

In order for power to be generated, the dam needs to discharge water. Bao Zhengfeng, director of the water resources department at the company’s subsidiary China Yangtze Power Co., told state-run media Xinhua that the reason why Three Gorges Dam was put into operation was because “the amount of water that entered the reservoir met the requirements for the power-generating unit to be in operation.”

Neither the company nor state-run media mentioned the risk of flooding due to discharging of water.

Thus far, authorities have not announced the death toll.

More Flooding

On June 28, Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province flooded for the first time this year.

The MWR warned that the water level of Lake Tai would keep rising in the next two days due to heavy rain. The nearby Huai River, spanning Anhui and Jiangsu provinces, will likely burst its banks, it predicted.

Authorities also said that the Wusuli River in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province; Dadu River in southwestern Sichuan Province; Qi River in southwestern Chongqing city; Jialing River in Sichuan and Chongqing; Wu River in southwestern Guizhou Province; Ruan River in central China’s Hunan Province; Yangtze River in Hubei Province; Zhang River in Anhui, and several others were “at risk.”

Sichuan is one of the heavy-hit provinces.

On the evening of June 26, heavy rain caused flooding in Mianning county, killing at least 12, according to local authorities. By June 28, at least 10 people were missing.

Ms. Wang, who was a tourist from Mianyang city who was visiting the area with her friends, shared with the Chinese-language Epoch Times her experience. “At 2 or 3 a.m. of June 27, we heard somebody knocking on our window. We opened the window and saw an old man was standing in the flood water,” she said. “We helped the old man enter our room and found that he was wounded all over. His legs were bleeding.”

Wang added that the hotel where she was staying did not alert her when the flooding happened, but withdrew all their employees in advance.

Wang and her friends called the police at midnight, but were only rescued hours later at about 6 a.m. “The water is as deep as 1.5 to 1.6 meters (4.92 to 5.25 feet),” she said, adding that the small structures on the hotel property all shifted due to the flooding.