Monday, June 20, 2011

175 killed from China floods; more than 1.6 million evacuated

China's Three Gorges Dam:
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang, in Hubei province, China. The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (18,200 MW) but is second to Itaipu Dam with regards to the generation of electricity annually.

The dam body was completed in 2006. Except for a ship lift, the originally planned components of the project were completed on October 30, 2008, when the 26th turbine in the shore plant began commercial operation. Each turbine has a capacity of 700 MW.[2][3] Six additional turbines in the underground power plant are not expected to become fully operational until mid-2011. Coupling the dam's thirty-two main turbines with two smaller generators (50 MW each) to power the plant itself, the total electric generating capacity of the dam will eventually reach 22,500 MW.

As well as producing electricity, the dam increases the Yangtze River's shipping capacity, and reduces the potential for floods downstream by providing flood storage space. The Chinese government regards the project as a historic engineering, social and economic success, with the design of state-of-the-art large turbines, and a move toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced some 1.3 million people, and is causing significant ecological changes, including an increased risk of landslides. The dam has been a controversial topic both in China and abroad.

CNN: 175 killed from China floods; more than 1.6 million evacuated
Beijing (CNN) -- At least 175 people have died from flooding this month in southern and eastern China, the country's Ministry of Civil Affairs said Monday.

Another 86 people are missing from the flooding that began with rainfall on June 3. The ministry said 13 provinces have been affected, more than 1.6 million people have been evacuated, and the direct economic losses has reached 32.02 billion yuan ($4.9 billion).

The flooding has destroyed at least 8,400 houses in Zhejiang province alone, a provincial agency said.

More than 4.4 million have been affected by the flooding in Zhejiang of Monday morning, according to the Zhejiang Flood Control Office. About 292,000 have been evacuated, according to the agency's website.

The direct economic loss in Zhejiang has reached 7.69 billion yuan ($1.18 billion), the agency said.

Zhao Fayuan, director of the Zhejiang Flood Control Office, said rain continued falling in the province on Monday, though it was not as heavy as the rainfall over the weekend. He said the areas around the Qiantang and Dongtiao rivers are the most severely affected.

At least 171,000 hectares (422,550 acres) of crops have been destroyed by flooding, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing data from local officials.

The southern province of Jiangxi is grappling with the worst flooding on record there. At least 40,000 people have been evacuated from flooding over the weekend.

"The farmlands are severely affected by the flood," said Qiu Qiyong of the Jiangxi Flood Control and Drought Relief Office. He said the economic loss over two days reached 0.836 billion yuan ($129 million).

Residents in Jiangxi may get a respite Monday, as rainfall stopped and water levels decreased. Some of those evacuated returned to their homes.

Hubei province -- where the Three Gorges Dam is located -- has suffered significant flooding, according to Xinhua. And the rains caused water levels in dozens of reservoirs in neighboring Hunan province "to exceed alarming levels," the news agency said.

The flooding ended the worst drought to hit southern China in 50 years.

It came a month after the Chinese government acknowledged that Three Gorges Dam -- the world's largest hydropower plant -- was having "urgent problems" and warned of environmental, construction and migration "disasters."

The dam was originally touted for its ability to control the impact of flooding that threatens the Yangtze River Delta each summer.

But more than 1,000 towns and villages were flooded during the digging and construction of the dam's giant concrete barrier. And landslides and pollution have plagued the areas near the dam since it was built.

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