Passing of flood peak hailed as the first real test of Three Gorges Dam Hundreds of Yichang residents flocked to the banks of the Yangtze River yesterday as authorities declared the area safe after the city's highest flood peak in six years passed without incident. Yichang in Hubei province had experienced little rain over the past two days, with the danger moving further upstream. Heavy rain in Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality pushed the river to more than 54.5 metres, 1.5 metres above the official danger level. Some 75 people died and 25 were missing in Chongqing. The total death toll from recent storms reached 189, including 106 in Sichuan. Officials hailed the safe passing of the flood peak as the first real test of the Three Gorges Dam, located just upstream from Yichang. Residents were unfazed by the swollen river as they strolled along its banks, watching murky waves lapping over the embankment. 'The water has risen, but I'm not worried,' said one resident, gazing at posts marking the level of the river. Nearby, an elderly man walked his dogs, undeterred by the water lapping at his ankles. The floodwaters had started to recede by last night, but police remained stationed along the riverbank, keeping onlookers behind a barrier of red tape. Taxi driver Zhu Benqiang said he believed the situation was not as serious as in 1998, when thousands died in flooding along the Yangtze. Six years ago a local park and streets adjacent to the river in Yichang were inundated. 'There is no impact on the city this time,' said Mr Zhu. Other residents said they felt safer with the Three Gorges Dam helping to hold back floodwaters, despite the possibility that releasing more water through the dam could threaten the city. 'We're not scared,' one woman said as she walked with her mother along the riverbank. An official at the Three Gorges hydrological station said: 'There is no danger.' But critics of the controversial dam say it is making flooding worse upstream. The dam's five-level lock remained closed to shipping yesterday. It was the first closure since the dam went into operation last year. The dam operator had lowered power production to use the dam for flood control. Water poured through the sluice gates, creating an arc of spray as tourists took photographs.