China open gates of its biggest dam due to heavy overflows | world | Hindustan Times
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China open gates of its biggest dam due to heavy overflows

world Updated: Jul 20, 2010 15:35 IST

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Atleast 15 people were killed and 65 others were missing in floods and landslides in northwest China as torrential downpours continued to batter some parts of the country, causing water levels in major rivers to reach dangerous highs.

Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains have left atleast 15 people dead and 54 missing in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, flood control authorities said.

The lives of more than 1.33 million people were disrupted by the heavy flooding in 23 counties and cities in the southern regions of the province, official Xinhua news agency reported.

In southwest Sichuan Province, 11 people were reported missing on Tuesday after a landslide struck a village.

The death toll in heavy rains and floods since July 1 rose to 200, with 126 killed in Sichuan Province alone.

China is facing some of its worst floods in over a decade as water levels in lakes and rivers including the Yangtze, the nation's longest river have exceeded danger levels.

The rising waters has put severe stress on the massive Three Gorges Dam, forcing officials to open the floodgates of the world's largest hydroelectric project to reduce pressure on it due to sharp rise in inflows.

The dam has 26 gigantic hydro power generators, each producing 700 MW of power. The total electric generating capacity of the dam planned to reach 22.5 GW by 2011.

Officials who kept a close watch on the dam said it is holding up against its first major flood-control test so far.

The flow on the river's upper reaches topped 70,000 cubic meters a second Tuesday 20,000 cubic meters more than the flow during the 1998 floods that killed 4,150 people and the highest level since the dam was completed in 2009.

The flow peaked at 70,000 cubic meters per second at the Three Gorges Dam, still below the record high of 70,800 cubic meters per second in 1981, a spokesman with the corporation said.

"The peak flow is high, but it has not exceeded the designed capacity of 100,000 cubic meters of water per second," said Cao Guangjing, the corporation's chairman.

"The dam can withstand the challenge easily," Cao said.

All ferry services were halted at the Three Gorges Dam on Monday and the 30-km exclusive road along the river had been opened to vehicles carrying shipping cargoes, said an official of the Three Gorges Navigation Administration.

Services would be resumed after the influx decreased from 70,000 to 45,000 cubic meters per second, the official said.

Ferries near the Gezhouba Dam, on the lower reaches of the Three Gorges, were still operating as the flow there was 40,000 cubic meters a second, below its designed capacity of 60,000 cubic meters per second, the official said.