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Battle Against Flooding in China Continues - 2002-08-22

Almost a million people have joined the battle to stop a large lake from overflowing and flooding thousands of homes. Chinese officials warn the water of Dongting Lake in Hunan Province could reach levels last seen in 1998, when floods across the country killed more than 4,000 people.

Chinese state television Thursday says waters in the Xiang River which flows into Dongting Lake - have risen to more than 38 meters. That is several meters above the flood-warning level, and the third-highest level in history.

Yang Xusheng, an official with the Red Cross, says there are no deaths or injuries so far, and rainfall over the last few days has been light. But Mr. Yang says the waters in Dongting Lake and the Xiang River could continue to rise further.

State media report that about 800,000 residents and eight thousand soldiers are working around the clock to shore up dikes around the lake and river. About 1,000 households around the lake, which is in central China, have been evacuated.

Millions of residents in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, are reportedly in serious danger of being hit by floods from the lake. The province has been on emergency flood alert since Wednesday.

Dongting Lake is China's second largest freshwater lake, and covers almost 4,000 square kilometers.

Floods and landslides across China have already killed almost a thousand people this summer, as heavy rains have hit much of the country.