More downpours on the way but dykes expected to hold firm

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 1998, 12:00am

Weather experts forecast rain would continue to fall on the battered city of Jiujiang today after they recorded 80mm yesterday.

The city's flood control headquarters reported water levels of 22.89 metres, more than three metres above the perceived danger level.

However, a local flood control official believed it was unlikely the dykes would be breached, having been waterlogged for about a month.

'Even though the dykes are designed to withstand 23.25 metres, in reality we can add 1.5 metres to that,' said the official.

'In fact, after reinforcing the dykes, they are up to 26 metres high in some places. We are not too worried about water levels. I don't think the flood crest will cause as much damage downstream as it did upstream.' Residents and soldiers were continuing to closely monitor the dykes around the city, in Jiangxi province.

The official declined to comment on the state of the Saicheng Lake embankments, which had been said to be crumbling in places.

The Jiujiang Red Cross Society said many residents had fallen ill. 'A lot of people are suffering from colds and influenza,' said a spokesman. 'Some have skin sicknesses from prolonged exposure to the river water. Many have diarrhoea due to the lack of clean drinking water.' The spokesman said the Red Cross was doing its best to help flood victims but there was a shortage of essential materials.

'We have already distributed many water purification tablets, but there are still many people out there with no access to clean water,' he said.

He complained about the lack of funds, saying he would not be surprised if some local officials were siphoning off cash aid.

'By the time the money from the State Council gets through the provincial Government and the local Government to us, there's not going to be much left,' said the spokesman.