Hunan village inundated after dam breach

More than 7,000 people have been evacuated after the failure of an earthen dam on Dongting Lake in Hunan province, Jiemian reported.

The breach took three days to patch up, according to Xinhua News.

On 5 July, a resident of Tuanzhouyuan, a village near the dam, noticed water leaking into his house, a dangerous sign of a dam internally eroding. When he told the village cadre, the local government tried to block the leak, but the breach occurred two hours later, The Paper reported.

At its most severe, the crack in the dam was 226 metres long. It caused the flooding of 48 sq km of land and required the emergency evacuation of 7,680 local people. No casualties were reported.

Abnormally heavy and prolonged rain was the main cause of the breach. Between 16 June to 3 July, the rain was the heaviest in Changsha, Changde, Yue Yang and Xiangtan since records began in 1961.

As a result, many rivers in Hunan overflowed. Dongting, the largest lake in Hunan, receives water from almost all rivers in the province. Since this year’s flood season began in April, it received 122 billion cubic metres of water, 39.9% higher than the average. The lake’s size more than doubled from 1,100 sq km to 2,570 sq km in just 13 days.

Tuanzhouyuan, the small village by the lake, became a victim as the weak earth dam, built in the middle of last century, was unable to withstand the immense pressure. According to CCTV, around 210 million cubic metres of water remains in the village, which will take around 17 days to drain.

South China has also experienced floods this year. In June, many places in Guangdong, Guangxi, and Anhui faced severe flooding. The flood season started significantly earlier than usual, with six floods in April, two months earlier than usual. The first and second flood of the Bei River in the Pearl River Basin were the earliest and most severe flood respectively since records began in 1998.

While in north China, flooding is affecting Linyi, Shandong’s most populous city. Since the flood season started, precipitation in the city has reached 288.2mm, 95.3% higher than normal, Caixin reported.

Read Dialogue Earth’s previous analysis on how China should adapt to flooding under climate change.