BEIJING -- A severe drought could combine with sudden rains to create even larger floods along China's Yangtze River than those last year that killed 4,125 and left tens of millions homeless, environmental officials said.
With China suffering its worst drought in more than a decade, the ground has become too parched to absorb this summer's seasonal rains, the China Daily newspaper quoted Yangtze River water resources director Li Antian as saying.
When those rains come, the water will likely run right off the hard ground and into the Yangtze River and its tributaries. That will lead to higher water levels than last year, especially along the river's upper reaches in mountainous central China, Li warned. Li and other officials called on towns and provinces along China's longest river to get ready as quickly as possible.
China has spent $2.4 billion on emergency flood-control projects since last year, when the Yangtze burst through dikes and forced 13.8 million people from their homes. But communities may be even more vulnerable this year because many have yet to finish repairing dikes destroyed by last year's floods, Nie Rongfang, a Hunan engineer, was quoted as saying in the newspaper.
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