An urgent crackdown on illegal structures along Nanjing's river banks was under way yesterday as the summer's third flood crest bore down on the city. Illegal buildings and extensions, some erected by cadres, had narrowed the Qinhuai River, lowering its capacity to contain the water flow. Officials said the 'illegal appendage' problem had lingered for years and repeated crackdowns had failed. A Jianghua villager said illegal structures were found at a judiciary official's home but he had not done anything about it, despite repeated complaints. The cadre, Chen Xianliang, was also said to have built houses along the river without planning approval. The villager, who refused to be named for fear of retaliation, said: 'Mr Chen reclaimed the shore and built at least three houses. We have tried to be tolerant, but a very serious flood crest is approaching us and I think we the people must report him.' The local building authority confirmed it was investigating. An official said: 'We are conducting urgent inspections and tearing down all illegal structures. We cannot afford any risks of Nanjing being flooded by whatever cause.' The Nanjing area of the PLA had issued emergency orders instructing all officers and soldiers to fight to the death to protect dykes, cities along the Yangtze and people and property, said Xinhua. A low tide and improved weather saved Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, from flooding yesterday. The water level was said to be rising at a slower rate. Flood prevention experts from Beijing visited some of Jiangsu's flood-prone towns, including Zhenjiang, Jiangning and Pukou. One expert, Wang Dongsheng, said after visiting Zhenjiang: 'The anti-flood works by the local authorities are satisfactory. 'But as the floodwater will be approaching, fuelled with the expected high tide in the middle of the week. Officers should still be on full alert.' Weather reports said Nanjing would be cloudy for the next few days, with occasional showers.