Chinese authorities blew up part of a dam in eastern Anhui province to relieve flood pressure, local media reported, as heavy rains continue to swell rivers across parts of the country.
More than 140 people have died or are missing amid rising waters across central and eastern China, and floods have affected almost 24 million since the start of July, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Authorities have adopted measures such as diverting water into back-up reservoirs to keep levels manageable as large rivers and lakes hit record highs.
In Anhui, a dam on the Chu River was demolished on Sunday as water levels inched close to historic highs. Local authorities said the action was taken to ensure the safety of people living nearby.
The blasting of the dam was expected to reduce the level of the Chu River by about 70cm (28 inches), reported the state-run Global Times. Chinese media said the released water was being channelled into two downstream storage ponds.
A total of 35 rivers and lakes in Anhui saw high water marks exceed warning levels by Saturday noon – including the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers – reported the official Xinhua news agency. Over the weekend, the Three Gorges Dam also opened three floodgates after the water rose more than 15 metres (49 feet) above flood level.
Last week, soldiers erected sandbag flood barriers in a city near China’s largest freshwater lake after the heaviest rainfall in nearly 60 years drenched the Yangtze River basin.