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Dam in China's Hangzhou opens all 9 floodgates for first time in history

China's Xin'anjiang dam opens all gates, 12 villages flooded, 300,000 people affected

Xin'anjiang dam opening spillways. (Weibo photo)

Xin'anjiang dam opening spillways. (Weibo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With torrential rain and massive flooding ravaging much of southern China, the Xin'anjiang Dam on Wednesday (July 8) opened all nine of its floodgates, causing 12 villages downstream to be inundated and impacting over 300,000 people.

On Tuesday (July 7), as water levels rose at an alarming rate due to incessant rain, authorities opened three floodgates on the dam for the the first time since 2011. On Wednesday morning, the water level in the dam's reservoir, commonly known as Qiandao Lake, reached a record 108.45 meters, 0.08 meters higher than the previous record of 108.37 set in 1999, reported the Global Times.

In order to lower the water levels further, dam operators at 9 a.m. announced they had opened all nine floodgates for the first time since it was built in 1959. By the afternoon, floodwater discharge from the dam had reached 7,800 cubic meters per second, far exceeding official expectations.

Such was the power of the massive wall of water that bighead carp could be seen flying in the air, according to local media reports. Many villagers downstream captured the "flying fish" and posted on social media, with some weighing up to 15 kilograms.

Dam in China's Hangzhou opens all 9 floodgates for first time in history
Bighead carp sent airborne by floodwaters. (Weibo photo)

The torrent of floodwaters soon submerged 12 villages downstream, devastating 653 hectares of cropland, impacting 41 companies, and affecting 300,000 people in eight counties and towns in Jiande, a prefecture-level city of Hangzhou. The floodwaters rose to the second floor of residential buildings, and more than 42,800 people were evacuated.

Since the start of the plum rain season on May 29, Hangzhou has recorded 710 millimeters of rainfall, 2.7 times the average amount. More rain is forecast in Jiande, Chun'an, and Tonglu counties as well as Hangzhou's Lin'an District on Friday.

According to preliminary estimates, the flooding has inflicted 124 million Chinese yuan (US$17.7 million) in losses to agriculture, industrial and mining enterprises, infrastructure, and private property.

Dam in China's Hangzhou opens all 9 floodgates for first time in history
Bridge over Qiandaohu Lake in danger of being submerged by floodwaters. (Weibo photo)