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Natural disasters

China warns of new floods as Three Gorges Dam under pressure

GDP may fall 0.2% in Q3 in the face of 45m evacuees and $17bn in damages

Water spews from the Three Gorges Dam, a gigantic hydropower project on the Yangtze River, to relieve flood pressure in central China's Hubei Province.   © AFP/Jiji

SHANGHAI -- Chinese authorities cautioned on Sunday of water topping warning levels on the Yangtze River as a third wave of floodwater is expected at Three Gorges Dam over the next three days.

The country is already facing one of its worst floods since 1998 with water breaching record levels at key waterways and lakes.

"The inflow of the Three Gorges Dam on the upstream Yangtze River may reach 60,000 cubic meters per second on Tuesday," the Ministry of Water Resources said in a statement. "Water at the Yangtze River midstream will rise again and exceed its limit by 0.2 meters." The ministry also warned of a "huge flood" both east and west of the city of Yichang in Hubei Province where the dam is located.

The estimated inflow tracked the 61,000 cubic meters per second recorded on July 20, which raised the dam's water level to a record high of 164.2 meters.

Completed in 2006, Three Gorge Dam began receiving floodwater on July 2 at 53,000 cubic meters per second, raising the water level to 149 meters. The maximum level is 175 meters.

Floods have already displaced 46 million people in 27 of the country's 31 provinces since heavy rainfalls began in June, leaving 141 people dead or missing with economic losses of 116 billion yuan ($17 billion), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Videos posted on Sunday by residents in the city of Enshi in Hubei showed main roads inundated in raging currents that swept away vehicles and properties. This followed earlier floods and landslides on July 17.

The central government urged "greater efforts" to mitigate floods.

"Efforts should be made to further increase flood discharge of the Huai River, reduce the water level of Hongze Lake, and prepare for heavy rains," said E Jingping, minister of water resources, on Sunday.

Nomura, in a research note on Monday, projected a 0.2 percentage point drop of third-quarter economic growth, and a higher inflation rate in July and August.

U.S. research company Jefferies said on July 21 that there had been no serious sales disruptions in the aftermath of the flood.

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