Warning in China of earlier flood season

 A man crosses a flooded street during rainfall in Shanghai on April 6, 2016.
A man crosses a flooded street during rainfall in Shanghai on April 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Flooding likely to be more serious, raising likelihood of environmental emergencies

BEIJING • China's Ministry of Environment Protection has warned about the onset of an earlier and more serious flood season due to the El Nino effect, adding that this meant the likelihood of environmental emergencies was much higher this year.

The ministry urged local environment departments to increase security checks of polluting factories and facilities.

Nuclear plants were identified as the top priority and environmental indicators around them will be monitored more regularly with more checks on the storage and transportation of radioactive substances.

The monitoring of major rivers, lakes and sources of drinking water will also be increased. All environment departments must share information and coordinate with weather, water resources and safety control agencies.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, the El Nino event, which began in September 2014, has been the longest and strongest since observation records began in 1951. Serious flooding is highly possible in the Yangtze drainage area and the flood control and drought relief situation is extremely serious, said Vice-Minister of Water Resources Liu Ning at a meeting last month.

The National Meteorological Centre (NMC) said heavy rain fell in parts of Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hunan, Yunnan, and Guizhou provinces yesterday, with some areas of Anhui, Jiangxi and Guizhou experiencing torrential rain accompanied by thunder or hail today. Members of the public were advised to reduce their outdoor activities and prepare for possible floods and landslides.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said China experienced earlier spring floods this year, with Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong being the hardest-hit regions.

It added that floods and ensuing geological disasters left 48 dead or missing and caused about 1.21 billion yuan (S$253.5 million) in direct losses.

Meanwhile, China released more water from the Jinghong dam in its south-western province of Yunnan in the past week to help alleviate drought in parts of South- east Asia, following an initial release begun last month.

China's Foreign Ministry said the releases of water can help in controlling floods and addressing droughts, while benefiting downstream countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 17, 2016, with the headline 'Warning in China of earlier flood season'. Print Edition | Subscribe