Natural Disasters

Dongting Lake Dike Breach Sealed, Concerns Remain Over Embankment as Heavy Rainfall Continues

Main image to the post Dongting Lake Dike Breach Sealed, Concerns Remain Over Embankment as Heavy Rainfall Continues

Flood Control Efforts Reach Crucial Phase at Dongting Lake

The situation at Dongting Lake in Hunan province took a critical turn on Monday night as crews successfully sealed a breached dike around 10:30 pm. The breach, measuring 226 meters wide, had occurred on Friday at a dike in Tuanzhou, a township in Huarong county. This dike is part of a network protecting Dongting Lake, China's second-largest freshwater lake.

Over 100,000 cubic meters of rock were used to seal the breach, with crews managing to close 3.5 meters per hour. The breach had caused a large volume of water from the lake to flood 47.6 square kilometers of the Tuanzhou region, forcing the evacuation of at least 7,000 residents.

Local schools have been converted into temporary shelters, housing around 4,000 residents and providing essential supplies. Medical personnel are also available around the clock to assist those displaced.

"Our home was affected twice. Back in 1996, there was another flood and then this year. I think the resettlement process is now very good," said Tuanzhou resident Cai Shusheng.

While the dike breach has been sealed, concerns remain about a nearby embankment, considered the second line of defense. This embankment, located about 2 kilometers from the breached dike, separates Tuanzhou from the township of Qiannan.

Multiple piping hazards, where water moves through channels in the embankment, were observed but have since been brought under control. Over 300 police officers and firefighters are working at the site to address this issue.

The dike breach followed 17 days of heavy rainfall in Hunan, the longest continuous period since 1961. The National Development and Reform Commission has allocated 200 million yuan ($27.5 million) to support affected areas in Hunan and neighboring Jiangxi province.

In Jiangxi, the flood control situation remains severe due to prolonged high water levels on the Yangtze River and at Poyang Lake. Water levels at Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake, have exceeded the warning level since June 27.

Floods and other geological disasters have affected over 1.6 million people in Jiangxi, causing direct economic losses of 2.23 billion yuan. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze are expected to fall below the warning level from mid to late July as the river basin's inflow recedes.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09