A new surge in heavy rain and upstream flooding on the Yangtze River has caused many riverside businesses to shut down, whle shipments along the river were halted on 18 August, affecting deliveries to manufactureers.
Many Chinese factories were forced to halt production in February and March due to the coronavirus outbreak. While the economy has been recovering since April, a disaster along the Yangtze, where industries like automobiles, semiconductors and display panels are based, could set things back.
Since flooding began in June, at least $26 Billion USD in economic losses have been incurred. Zhou Xuewen, Secretary general of China’s flood control headquarters, said in mid-August that at least 63 million people had been affected and 54,000 homes destroyed. At least 219 people have died or disappeared, he said.
Inflow into the Three Gorges Dam reached a record net 26,000 cu. meters per second on August 19 causing water levels in the reservoir to rise to an unprecedented 166 meters. This is well above the 145-meter “safe” threshold but below the maximum water level of 175 meters.
The water levels are being closely watched as further rise could force more release adding to the flooding woes downstream in Hubei and Anhui provinces.
Elsewhere in China, continuous rainfall in China’s southwest Sichuan Province has caused authorities to declare the Level 1 flood control response, the highest in the four-tier emergency response system, for the first time on record. It is believed that this event is the first of its kind in over 100 years.
Over 20 rivers in the province have exceeded their flood warning levels, causing massive evacuations of over 100,000 people and prompting searches for those in low-lying areas that have been reported missing. Local authorities have indicated that it is the top priority of the city government to carry out post-disaster epidemic prevention and to protect those who have been resettled.
The Jiuzhaigou National Park, also known as the Jiuzhai Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site famed for its spectacular waterfalls, lush forests, serene plateau lakes and rock formations has been closed temporarily.
Floods have affected the Leshan Giant Buddha with flood water reaching the toes of the Buddha statue. There is a saying in Leshan that the city will be flooded entirely when the Giant Buddha's feet are flooded. The statue, carved into Leshan Mountain in the year 713, overlooks three converging rivers and is another important UNESCO world heritage site.
While the Sichuan provincial meteorological observatory claims that the main rain belt is leaving the province, there is an alert for subsequent geological disasters such as land- and mudslides.