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Recent Floods in China

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Floods are one of the most frequent hazards that affect China. Most of the floods occur in June-July. Since 1949, China has been struck by floods on an average of 5.8 times a year. The swelling of the four rivers, such as the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and the Haihe rivers is one of the main causes for flooding. The area most affected by rainstorms and floods are the southeastern coastal regions, the Yangtze River and the Huaihe river valleys. (source: http://www.adpc.ait.ac.th)

In 2002, the flood season started earlier and lasted longer than usual. According to statistics issued in early September by China Ministry of Civil affairs, the 2002 floods claimed 1,532 lives across China and affected at different degrees an estimated 190 million people. One million houses were destroyed and 13.15 million ha of crops were damaged. Local governments temporarily evacuated more than 2.4 million people from several floods-prone areas. Direct economic loss of the 2002 floods amounts to approximately 68 billion yuans (8.2 billion US dollars). (Source: IFRC and http://www.reliefweb.int)

Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) are a common hazard to the high mountains of China. Glacial lakes that pose this type of danger are formed by the retreat of the glacier; water from the ice melt is retained by the glacier's terminal moraine. Eventually, either the volume of water becomes too great for the moraine to support or an event such as a large ice block detachment occurs and the moraine is breached. The resulting flood can cause devastating damage to property and infrastructure and frequently results in loss of life. A GLOF in China in 1964 destroyed many kilometers of highway and washed 12 timber trucks 71 km from the scene.

In Tibet, the floods that struck one of the major barley producing areas of the Tibetan Plateau in August 2000, were the worst in living memory in the region. Financial losses were estimated at 75 million US dollars with more than 10,000 homes, 98 bridges and dykes destroyed. The loss of grain and livestock too had a great impact on the farming communities who faced food shortages this year until the next harvest took place.