BEIJING - A fresh round of torrential rain forecast to hit Hainan before the weekend may aggravate the worst flooding experienced in China's island province in nearly half a century.
The flooding in Hainan, the result of record rainfall since Sept 30, killed one, left three missing, and affected 1.65 million people in 16 cities and counties as of Thursday, according to the latest statistics from Hainan's flood control office.
More than 1,160 villages were submerged by floods, and 580 houses collapsed. The direct economic loss has reached 1.13 billion yuan ($168.77 million).
The situation may worsen after the China Meteorological Administration, the national weather forecaster, announced further rainstorms are expected to batter the provinces of Hainan, Yunnan and Guangdong over the next three days.
The national flood control office raised the flooding emergency level in Hainan to the top level on Thursday morning and ordered related departments to send clothing, food and candles to help affected villagers to cope with the situation.
In order to guarantee students' safety, the education bureau in Wanning, a hard-hit area in Hainan, decided to suspend classes on Friday, while teachers are required to report to schools to check the safety of the facilities, said Wu Kai, director of the Wanning education bureau.
The persistent rain in Hainan over the past week has raised rivers on the island above the alarm level, including the Nandu, Wanquan and Lingshui rivers, the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said on its website on Thursday.
At 8 am on Wednesday, the water level of the Longtang monitoring station along the Nandu River reached nearly 14 meters, passing the alarm level by more than 2.4 meters, and the Jiaji monitoring station along the Wanquan River was above 9.5 meters, 50 centimeters above the alarm level, according to the latest data from the national flood control office.
In an effort to control the flooding, local authorities used explosives to blast a reservoir twice in the provincial capital Haikou to reduce the rapidly rising water level that was feared could cause the dam to collapse, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Luo Baoming, the governor of Hainan, asked the water resources department to repair and strengthen the province's 1,079 reservoirs.
Some 214 of the reservoirs discharged floodwater. Four of them may be damaged if there is further rain, Li Hongbo, director of the local water resources bureau, said at a news conference.
Flooding on the island has also damaged two expressways, two state highways, eight provincial roads and 26 county roads, according to the local flood control office. One of the expressways has been fixed.
As of Thursday night, more than 213,000 residents on the island had been evacuated from their homes to safety since Sept 30, according to the local flood control office.
Tourists waiting to depart from the island were evacuated on Wednesday from wharfs where they had been trapped. The next group to be rescued will be tourists at scenic spots like Wuzhishan and Bawangling, said Lu Zhiyuan, director of the provincial tourism bureau.
More than 120,000 people in Qionghai, the worst-hit area in Hainan, were affected by the flooding, which left one person and seven ships missing. The direct economic loss to the city from the flooding is expected to reach 120 million yuan.