Officials have opened a newly built water diversion channel and closed dam gates in an attempt to control the swollen Huai river which continues to wreak havoc in Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. Xinhua reported yesterday that on Friday night, Jiangsu provincial flood control officials had begun diverting water from the Huai river at the Huaiyuan City section to the recently completed 163km flood-control channel, which flows into the Yellow Sea. The move was an attempt to lower the water level of the main dyke of Hongze Lake, which by yesterday morning had reached 13.32 metres. Calling the diversion a major test for the new man-made waterway, the report said that by 10am yesterday, the flow had reached over 1,000 cubic metres a second. Authorities have mobilised about 171,000 people to keep watch along the channel route. Meanwhile, flood control officials in Anhui yesterday shut all 13 sluice gates of the Wangjiaba Dam in an attempt to cut the water flow into the Mengwa floodwater storage zone. According to Xinhua, the flood storage zone faces the risk of overflow. More than 22,000 people living in the storage zone were evacuated last Thursday when the sluice gates were opened for the first time in 12 years. The move was the latest measure taken by officials since heavy rain began falling in eastern regions early last week, with daily rainfall as high as 238 millimetres. The flooding is not expected to improve soon, with the State Meteorological Bureau forecasting heavy storms to hit the region in the next few days. With the anticipated surge in water levels, Cheng Dianlong, vice-director of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief headquarters, told Xinhua that the critical need in the next few days was to control the water levels of Hongze Lake and Wangjiaba. He added that all units of the government, from the Central Committee to local levels, were working hard to make sure every available measure was adopted to prevent casualties and economic damage. So far, no fatalities have been recorded. According to the report, more the 568,000 people from Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu have been mobilised to fight the flooding, a thousand of whom are People's Liberation Army soldiers and armed police. This year's flooding on the Huai river is the worst since 1991.