07/12/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Floods in southern China. Qinghai dam at risk

Wenquan Dam has several cracks and is filled to three times its capacity. Its flooding could hit over 205 thousand people, along with power plants and Qinghai - Tibet railway. So far at least six provinces affected, 17 million people, more than 600 000 displaced. Damage to the economy for more than 1 billion. Climate change caused by rapid and wild industrialization.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Torrential rain, landslides, floods have been hitting southern China for weeks. Over the next few days more rains and floods are expected. Storms have destroyed roads, bridges and highways blocking at least 16 provinces of Chongqing, Fujian, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Hunan and Qinghai.

In the latter province, hundreds of workers and soldiers are working to decrease the water level of the Wenquan dam, near the city of Golmud. Several cracks have appeared in the structure that endanger the lives of over 205 thousand people. The overflow of the dam could affect power plants and especially of the Qinghai-Tibet railway, the highest in the world, located 40 km from the dam.

Wenquan dam, designed to hold 70 million cubic meters of water, contains at least 230 million, three times more than normal. Yesterday, almost 10 thousand inhabitants of Golmud were evacuated and taken to refugee camps.

From 1 July floods, land and mud slides have killed at least 50 people across southern China, 15 people are still missing. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, at least 17 million people have affected by the rains, about 600,000 evacuated since the beginning of July.

An estimated 42 thousand houses have collapsed and 121 thousand others damaged. At least 946 thousand hectares of farmland have been destroyed, while the economic cost of the disaster is estimated about 8.9 billion Yuan (over 1 billion euros).

The National Weather Centre warned that rain is still expected tomorrow and the day after.

According to several Chinese experts, climate change in China - with torrential rains in once arid areas – is the result of pollution caused by the country's rapid and wild industrialization.

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