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China Declares Flood Emergency

China has declared a flood emergency as rising waters from a large lake threaten millions of people living in the area.

Soldiers and police in central China's Hunan Province are on alert as the waters of Dongting Lake rise above the 32-meter flood warning mark. More than 10 million people live around China's second largest freshwater lake, which covers almost 4,000 square kilometers.

Yang Xusheng, an official with the Red Cross, says waters in Dongting Lake and the Xiang River in Hunan Province are dangerously high. But he says the lake's level is still below its all-time high of almost 40 meters in 1998. That year, floods killed more than 4,000 people in China.

Mr. Yang says there is as yet no flood disaster in Hunan, but swollen rivers flowing into Dongting could push its level higher. He says the local government has mobilized rescue forces to be prepared if the lake overflows.

Dongting Lake rises each summer and is surrounded by almost 1,000 kilometers of dikes to limit flooding. Aid agencies say washed-out roads make it difficult for rescuers to reach villages in danger.

Floods and landslides in the mountains of southern Hunan have killed about 100 people this summer. Floods throughout the country have killed more than 900 people.