A flood crest rolled through the eastern city of Jiujiang on China's swollen Yangtze River early Tuesday, threatening to burst dikes sodden by flooding that is menacing cities and farmland.
In Jiujiang and elsewhere along the turbulent Yangtze, soldiers and residents worked desperately to repair levees and fortify those likely to collapse as floodwaters swelled yet again."The situation here is serious," said a local official who gave only his surname, Huang. "Today is clear and hot, but that doesn't mean we can relax."
More than 100 trucks loaded with stones were pushed into a major Yangtze tributary, the Hanbei River, on Monday to block an 82-foot gap in a dike that could have caused flooding in Hanchuan County, the newspaper China Daily reported.
Factories and homes were flooded to first-floor ceilings in low-lying parts of Jiujiang, a city of 500,000 in eastern Jiangxi Province, and scores of military police patrolled flooded city streets in boats.
Two dikes about six miles from the city were most at risk, Huang said. The water level had risen slightly Tuesday, although it was below the peak recorded on July 31.
The area was festooned with red flags - part of the government's effort to bolster morale and trumpet its efforts to rescue flood victims and control damage.
Low-lying parts of the city remained flooded after the river burst a 198-foot-wide hole in a levee on Friday, although the worst breaches had been repaired, state media said.
Upriver, the situation in the industrial city of Wuhan was calm after the flood peak passed on Monday, but the miseries of more than a month of flooding continued in many other areas along the Yangtze.
In southwestern Guizhou Province, 25 people were confirmed dead and three were missing after the bus they were riding was swept away by a swollen river, the official newspaper Beijing Evening News reported Tuesday.
Flooding nationwide has killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed more than 17 million houses, leaving millions homeless and often without clean drinking water, food, medicine and other necessities in brutally hot and humid weather.
Medical teams were rushing to the area to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, dysentery and infections.
With about 240 million people - about one-fifth of China's population - affected by the floods, provinces less severely hit were shipping in relief supplies.
A U.S. Air Force cargo plane Tuesday delivered a shipment of relief supplies to southern Hunan province, one of the areas worst affected by the floods. A second shipment was scheduled for Wed-nes-day.
The flood crest that passed through the middle stretches of the Yangtze on Monday and early Tuesday came within inches of previous record highs, with water lapping the tops of sandbagged dikes.
Floods from summer rains that fell heavier and earlier than usual have raised the river to levels not seen since 1954, when floods killed about 30,000 people.
The Yangtze is expected to remain at dangerously high levels for weeks to come, with more rain falling along the river's upper reaches in southwest Sichuan province.
Torrential rains also have fallen in northeastern Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, raising the Nenjiang River to dangerous levels.