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Natural disasters

China warns of more floods as Yangtze stays above warning levels

Heavy rain expected for next 10 days, undermining recovery from pandemic

Workers build a dyke to stop flood waters at Jiangjialing village in Poyang county in China's eastern Jiangxi province Saturday, July 11, 2020 (Xinhua News Agency via AP).   © AP

SHANGHAI -- China warned Wednesday of more rainfall over the next 10 days as many parts of the country remained flooded and water levels in the Yangtze River basin remained above warning levels, undermining any economic recovery in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Heavy rain is expected in Sichuan and Anhui in China's central regions over the next few days before heading north towards the capital Beijing, according to the National Meteorology Center.

The Yangtze, China's longest river, flows through the central regions of the country, where the Three Gorges Dam is also located. Some residents there have raised concerns recently over the dam's capacity to cope with the extra amounts of water.

Videos posted on social media showed many areas in Wuhan, one of the cities in the Yangtze River basin downstream of the dam and which has lately become known for being the initial epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, were still flooded as authorities rushed to reinforce dykes. Water levels in the city were recorded at 28.47 meters on Wednesday, above the warning level of 27.50 meters.

Since June, average rainfall nationwide was 172.7 mm, or 12% more than the same period last year. China saw some serious flood-led disasters centered around the Yangtze River in 1998 and 2016. Authorities said on Wednesday the rain record in the river basin since the start of the monsoon season last month reached 600 mm, higher than 2016's level of 580 mm but still below the 700 mm recorded in 1998.

Even so, floods around districts near the country's largest lake, Poyang in Jiangsi Province, have worsened in recent days, prompting the rescue of 6.4 million people, officials said on Wednesday. This is in addition to the 38 million people who have been evacuated across the country, which was announced on Monday.

As rains are predicted to move north, authorities in Xiongan New Area and Baoding, south of Beijing, are strengthening flood control measures, state media Xinhua reported on Monday.

Xiongan is one of the key economic development regions promoted by the government of President Xi Jinping. It is also the location of Daxing International Airport, Beijing's latest travel gateway.

Economists have raised concerns over the impact of the floods on the country's economic recovery, projecting there will be a drag on investment activities in the current quarter.

The government is expected to announce economic data for the April to June quarter on Thursday, with many analysts pointing to growth after a contraction of 6.8% in the first quarter.

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