BEIJING • China's national meteorological authority is warning of more heavy rain this week for the flood-ravaged regions as the country braces itself for a wetter-than-usual flood season.
Torrential rain and even hailstones will lash south-western and southern provinces as well as regions along the Huaihe and Yangtze rivers in the next three days, the National Meteorological Centre said.
The worst of the rain will come today and tomorrow, with some parts of Sichuan, Henan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai likely to see up to 130mm of precipitation, the observatory said.
The rain belt will then gradually move northward to areas along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, reported state media.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said in a statement last week that the Yangtze, Huaihe and Xijiang rivers may see "quite large" floods this year due to unusually heavy rain, with the average national precipitation level second only to that in 1961.
In an interview with news website Sixth Tone, Mr Wang Hai, head of the operations department of the Three Gorges complex, said the upcoming rains "could pose the first real challenge to the Three Gorges Dam since its completion".
The dam has seen high water levels before, during the flood seasons of 2010 and 2012, but according to Mr Wang, water in the dam's reservoir never reached alarming levels in those years.
This year, the Three Gorges Dam has seen 50 per cent more water inflow between January and April compared with the same period last year, reported Sixth Tone.
In April, the Three Gorges Dam started to discharge water from its reservoir to allow for more storage in the months to come.
The dam was built not only to generate electricity, but also to function as a control valve for the Yangtze River, the longest river in the country.
Floods along the Yangtze are common between the months of June and August. Experts have warned that this year's El Nino effect would bring unusually heavy rains, and Chinese officials are worried about a repeat of the Yangtze's last large-scale floods, in 1998.
Across China, hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding. In Guangdong province alone, over 40,000 residents have been displaced. More than 70,000 people were affected in south-west China's Guizhou province and over 27,000 people in central Hunan province.
Six people died after a rain-triggered landslide buried their homes early on Sunday in a village in the suburbs of Jiande City, in Zhejiang province.
Eight tourists died in Guangdong's Fenghuangxia scenic area when they encountered flash floods while river rafting on Saturday.