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Heed ‘warning’ of floodwaters, Premier Li says

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Jul 7,2016 7:07 AM     China Daily

Premier Li Keqiang instructs local government officials during his visit to flooded areas in Wuhan, Hubei province, on July 6. The heavy rain has caused water levels of the rivers, lakes and reservoirs of the city to rise alarmingly. [Photo/Xinhua]

Wearing a camouflage raincoat to protect him from the downpour, Premier Li Keqiang called on soldiers and rescuers to secure the embankments along the Yangtze River on the morning of July 6.

During a visit to Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and a crucial point along the 6,300-kilometer-long Yangtze River, Premier Li toured a site where floodwaters had burst through from beneath the embankment, inundating a neighborhood in the city’s Qingshan district.

The Premier encouraged soldiers rushing to help to fulfill their duty to protect people.

“A small leak can sink a ship, and the leaking point has sent a warning to us, as it’s only 400 meters outside the main structure,” Premier Li said. He added that if the floodwaters were to breach the embankments, the lives of millions of people would be in peril.

“I hope you can guarantee the embankment’s integrity,” he told the soldiers.

The Premier also urged local authorities to make full efforts to protect the lives and property of people who live near the embankment.

The Yangtze River’s banks are now much stronger than in 1998, when an unprecedented deluge devastated the region, but no leaking or holes can be neglected, the Premier said.

He also reiterated that flood control must achieve the two purposes of ensuring people’s safety and safeguarding the banks of major rivers such as the Yangtze, Huaihe and Yellow rivers.

As of July 6, downpours in Hubei had left 61 people dead and 24 missing, with 511,000 people being relocated to safe locations, the provincial government said. The point of the leak was blocked as a result of 300 soldiers’ efforts on the afternoon of July 6.

Premier Li also visited workers who were buttressing other sections of the embankment.

“Flood control depends on the structure and the people who detect and eliminate dangers to protect your own families along with millions of others. I am confident you will overcome these difficulties,” the Premier told the workers.

He rushed to Wuhan after his visit on July 5 to Wangjiaba, a key point along the 1,000-km-long Huaihe River in Anhui province, and Yueyang in Hunan province, where he toured the banks of the Yangtze and Dongting Lake, China’s second-largest freshwater lake.

On the night of July 5, he presided over a meeting in Yueyang on flood control for the Yangtze, Huaihe and Yellow rivers. At the meeting, originally scheduled for the morning of July 6, Premier Li urged officials at all levels to remain alert for all dangers, including flooding and landslides.

President Xi Jinping has ordered the People’s Liberation Army and the Armed Police Force to send more troops to support flood control and disaster relief in areas battered by rainstorms, Xinhua News Agency reported on July 6.

Heavy rain since June 30 has left at least 186 people dead and 45 others missing across China, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.