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China braces for impact after mass flooding at Three Gorges Dam

An aerial view of the Guanyin Temple in Hubei Province in the middle of the flooded Yangtze River in Ezhou, China on Sunday. The temple was first built in 1345 and was partly submerged under the latest round of flooding last week. Photo by Peng Nian/EPA-EFE
An aerial view of the Guanyin Temple in Hubei Province in the middle of the flooded Yangtze River in Ezhou, China on Sunday. The temple was first built in 1345 and was partly submerged under the latest round of flooding last week. Photo by Peng Nian/EPA-EFE

July 23 (UPI) -- A second round of mass flooding in several provinces across China is expected to increase the risk of natural disasters as torrential rains have affected 45 million people in the country and at least 142 people have died or gone missing, according to local authorities.

China's ministry of water resources said at 8 p.m. Wednesday a key section of the Yangtze River and other areas had risen above flood level. The ministry also said 93 rivers have exceeded their flood limit levels and that they are monitoring the Three Gorges reservoir, located in the upstream part of the Yangtze River.

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China's ministry of emergency management said this week more than 4,500 people in Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei and other provinces have been displaced due to floods, and at least 35,000 homes have collapsed, bringing direct damage close to $23 billion.

Chinese state media reports indicate Chinese leader Xi Jinping has yet to visit the disaster zones despite heavy rains since June. In the absence of more transparent information on the flooding, Chinese users of social media have begun uploading images of downpours sweeping up excavators and other large machinery at construction sites.

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Last week, as floodwaters rose to high levels, human rights activist Jennifer Zeng uploaded a video showing a 700-year-old temple engulfed in water from the overflowing Yangtze River, Taiwan News reported.

The Guanyin Temple in Hubei Province survived the floods, according to the report.

According to Taiwan News, China may have experienced "displacement, seepage and deformation" of the Three Gorges Dam that spans the Yangtze River in Hubei province.

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A Xinhua reporter stated on Friday three lower flood gates of the hydropower complex opened to let out "huge streams of water," Taiwan News said.

Chinese residents downstream are suspecting more water from the dam have been released but authorities are not disclosing the developments, according to the report.

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