Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Fear is growing again in China the Three Gorges Dam could be breached as rivers across the country continue to overflow and rise to record levels.
About 260,000 residents in the southwestern city of Chongqing have been evacuated, and thousands of shops in the city were submerged underwater by Thursday, state-owned Beijing News reported.
The dam, which was built in 2003 and spans the Yangtze River in Hubei province, is expected to receive a record 76,000 cubic meters of water per second as heavy downpours continue in the region, according to the report.
Chinese authorities have said 10 of the dam's floodgates were opened on Wednesday, discharging 48,000 cubic meters of water per second.
Water levels along the Yangtze River near Chongqing, upstream of the dam, reached new levels not seen since 1981, The Guardian reported Thursday.
Hongyadong, a city landmark, was partly submerged underwater. The 11-story wooden building includes popular bars, cafes and restaurants. Shopkeepers on the first and second floors were evacuated, according to Chinese state media. Other store owners were instructed to move their merchandise to higher floors of historical buildings, the South China Morning Post reported.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Chongqing on Thursday and visited a village affected by the floods.
President Xi Jinping had visited another region of China, Anhui province, on Tuesday. State media reports 21 rivers in the province have exceeded flood-limit levels.
The Three Gorges Dam, a massive state-led project, was built in 12 years, displacing millions and inundating vast areas of land, according to The Guardian.
Mass flooding in several provinces across China has affected tens of millions of people. Beijing has limited information on the floods, prompting Chinese users of social media to upload images of downpours destroying towns and villages.