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Archive for Thursday, August 22, 2002

China declares flood emergency at lake

August 22, 2002

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— Officials were given emergency powers Wednesday to combat floodwaters in central China's Hunan province, where tens of thousands of workers were trying to hold back the rising waters of a lake.

The floods have swept away hundreds of thousands of homes from China to Bangladesh to India, displacing millions and leaving about 2,000 dead.

In China, officials were given special powers to commandeer labor, land and materials under the emergency order declared for Hunan, a densely populated farming area where more than 100 people have died in flooding and landslides.

Some 400 soldiers have joined 850,000 civilians battling to hold off flooding in rivers and Dongting Lake, where water has risen to danger levels along hundreds of miles of dikes, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported. Rains stopped Tuesday night, and several days of dry weather were predicted.

The lake is bordered by Yueyang, a city of 600,000 people, and scores of farming villages, where hundreds of thousands more live.

In Changsha, the provincial capital about 93 miles south of Yueyang, residents were preparing flood defenses to hold off the raging Xiangjiang River. The river, which flows into Dongting Lake, was running at its highest recorded level this year.

"Into battle to save Changsha!" the Changsha Evening News urged in a headline. Another newspaper showed pictures of houses in nearby towns covered in water up to their eaves.

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