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China Continues to Fight Floods Across Central Region - 2002-08-27

A flood crest spares the Chinese city of Wuhan, but rising rivers still threaten other cities downriver. Authorities urge people not to be overly optimistic, and thousands of civilians and troops are standing ready to fight new floods.

The rain-swollen Yangtze River left Wuhan, a city of seven million people, unharmed. However, a huge swell of water caused by heavy rains upstream has flowed down China's largest river.

Yang Xusheng, with the Red Cross in China, says the relief efforts spread across a large part of central China.

"So far the Chinese Red Cross, we have dispatched I think to my knowledge 21 missions, working groups, I think to more than 10 provinces, to assess first the disaster situation, and then to monitor the distributions that are taking place in the field.

Downriver from Wuhan, officials in the city of Jiujiang urge residents to "overcome indifference and a sense of good luck" and continue to fight the flooding. Forty thousand civilians and troops are ready to fight breaches in the dikes.

Upriver at Dongting Lake, a thunderstorm has added more water to China's second-largest lake. On Sunday, the lake peaked near record levels before beginning to recede.

When Dongting Lake flooded in 1998, more than 100 people were killed. The floods that year were China's worst in decades, with more than 4,000 people killed nationwide.

Since then, China has invested more than $1 billion in reinforcing dikes and other flood-control measures.

Across the country, tens of millions of Chinese people live in flood-prone areas and they rely on a vast network of dikes and an anti-flood bureaucracy to protect them.

So far this year, China's summer floods have killed more than 900 people.