Floods kill 14 in China as water peaks at Three Gorges Dam

At least 14 people have died in the latest round of seasonal rains and flooding in southern China, as soldiers and workers built makeshift barriers with sandbags and rocks to keep the Yangtze River and its tributaries at bay.

Three floodgates of the Three Gorges Dam that spans the Yangtze were opened as the water level behind the massive dam rose more than 50 feet above flood level, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The dam was holding back about 45% of the water, Xinhua said.

Upstream, 11 people had been killed in Chongqing, China National Emergency Broadcasting said in an online report. More than 20,000 people had been evacuated and 1,031 homes destroyed.

China Floods
A woman pushes a makeshift raft down a flooded alleyway in a village in Yongxiu (Chinatopix via AP)

Three landslides in Dunhao town in a mountainous part of Chongqing left six dead, the city’s Emergency Management Bureau said. Three more people died in neighbouring Hubei province, the emergency management department said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed people cleaning up still wet, muddy streets and shops in the city of Enshi after severe flooding Friday. Rescue workers used inflatable rafts to rescue more than 1,900 people trapped in their homes and other buildings.

Downriver, firefighters and others finished filling in a 620ft break in a dyke on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, Xinhua said.

The dyke gave way nine days ago, flooding 15 villages and agricultural fields in Jiangxi province, the news agency said. More than 14,000 people were evacuated.

The incoming waters were expected to peak Saturday behind the Three Gorges Dam, but more water is forecast to arrive around Tuesday, Xinhua said.

The hydropower dam is used to mitigate catastrophic flooding.

Major cities have been spared so far, but concern has risen over Wuhan and other downstream towns that are home to tens of millions of people.