By Ji Jing
BEIJING: With over 2,000 years of history, the Hongya Cave, an ancient fortress in Chongqing, southwest China, is a must-see for visitors to the city. Its attraction as a tourist destination has been enhanced with an 11-storied stilt house built to accommodate a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants.
On August 22, the popular site was unrecognizable in a video posted on YouTube, which showed the once brightly lit complex completely dark and surrounded by muddy water.
Just four days earlier, the authorities had raised the flood-control response level in the metropolis to Level I, the highest in a four-tier emergency response system for floods, following heavy downpours on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and neighboring Sichuan Province.A watery year
China has seen more rainfall this year than usual. The national average precipitation reached 110.9 mm in June and 125.7 mm in July, 12 percent and 4 percent more respectively than in the same period in a normal year.
Wang Shiping, an expert with the Chongqing Emergency Management Bureau, told Cqnews.net that although there was no heavy rainfall in Chongqing, Sichuan had been flooded by the Yangtze and its tributaries and the water continued to spill over into Chongqing, which is at the confluence of many rivers.
Chongqing’s main urban area is located at the intersection of the Jialing River and the Yangtze, two major rivers that are a focus of flood control. The Yangtze especially suffered several floods on its upper reaches in quick succession this rainy season, which aggravated the situation in Chongqing. On the morning of August 20, the most recent floodwaters of the Yangtze swirled through the main urban area of Chongqing.
It was the fifth flood the city suffered this year and apprehended to be the worst since 1981. According to the figures announced at a press conference held by the Chongqing Municipal Government Information Office on August 20, over 130,000 people had to be evacuated while the flood submerged thousands of stores, 320 roads, 148 bridges and over 8,600 hectares of farmland. Around 28,000 emergency relief personnel were pressed into service and there were images of them carrying the elderly and children to safety on their back amid waist-high water.
Advanced warning was an important measure to keep the casualties as low as possible. Song Gangyong, director of the hydrology and flood and drought prevention department of the water resources bureau, said his department issued an alert more than 30 hours before the flood so that people living along the rivers had more time to evacuate.
A restaurant owner in Qijiang District said due to the advanced warning earlier as well, his family had managed to take shelter on higher grounds in June, when the first floor of his two-storied establishment was submerged.
The water resources bureau also asked the hydropower stations in the city to discharge water from their reservoirs so that there would be greater capacity to store the floodwaters. The Hechuan Caojie Hydropower Station on the Jialing opened all its 21 gates to release the water in its reservoir. The Yinpan Hydropower Station on the Wujiang River also followed suit.
“If the hydropower stations hadn’t discharged the water in their reservoirs, 100,000 more people would have needed to be evacuated,” Song said.
– The Daily Mail-Beijing
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