100k People Evacuated as Floods Threaten Chinese Heritage Site
Story Code : 881221
Staff, police and volunteers used sandbags to try to protect the 71-meter Leshan Giant Buddha, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southwestern Sichuan province, as muddy flood water rose over its toes for the first time since 1949, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Sichuan, through which the Yangtze River flows, raised its emergency response to the maximum level on Tuesday to cope with a new round of torrential rainfall.
The Yangtze Water Resources Commission, the government body that oversees the river, declared a red alert late on Tuesday, saying water at some monitoring stations was expected to exceed “guaranteed” flood protection levels by over 5 meters.
The Three Gorges Project, a massive hydroelectric facility designed in part to tame floods on the Yangtze, is expected to see water inflows rise to 74,000 cubic meters per second on Wednesday, the highest since it was built, the Ministry of Water Resources said.
The project restricts the amount of water flowing downstream by storing it in its reservoir, which has been over 10 meters higher than its official warning level for more than a month.
The facility was forced to raise water discharge volumes on Tuesday in order to “reduce flood control pressures,” the water ministry said.