Typhoon adds to floods as Yangtze dykes burst


Typhoon Otto slammed into the east coast of China yesterday, compounding problems already caused by widespread flooding.

Attempts to save a second major dyke near the Yangtze river city of Jiujiang were abandoned.

"The dyke near Jiujiang has already burst and the authorities have already abandoned any attempts to contain it," a local journalist said. "Some people must have died, but it's too early to say yet." Flood-prevention officials in Jiujiang, in the province of Jiangxi, and nearby Ruichang confirmed that a major dyke on a lake touching the Yangtze had crumbled, but denied there were casualties.

"We had warning, and all the people in the area were evacuated before the dyke went," an official said. Sources on Tuesday reported the first major dyke burst of the year in Jiayu district, some 70km from the industrial city of Wuhan, with hundreds of soldiers and civilians swept to their deaths.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said the rupture drowned hundreds. Local officials and state media acknowledged the accident, but confirmed only one soldier's death. According to an official toll, released in late July, about 1,200 people have been killed in flooding in southern and central China this summer.

The official Xinhua news agency said dykes at 3,200 points along the Yangtze basin are in danger of giving way, 1,800 of which would cause "major ruptures". Following new rainstorms, record high water levels were expected to hit Wuhan today, the official China Daily reported.

Meanwhile, two explosions blew up two buses yesterday in the city of Urumqi, capital of China's restive, mainly Muslim, western region of Xinjiang, local residents said. It was not immediately known whether anyone was injured.