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Record water levels test Three Gorges Dam

Record-high water levels are putting the capacity of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam to the test after heavy rains raged on across the country, compounding flooding problems that already left more than 1,200 people dead or missing.

The dam’s water flow reached 56,000 cubic metres per second this morning, the biggest peak flow this year with the water level reaching 158m, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, about 10% less than the dam’s maximum capacity.

Chinese officials for years boasted the dam could withstand floods so severe they come only once every 10,000 years.

The dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric project and was also built to end centuries of floods along the Yangtze River basin.

Floods this year killed at least 823 people, with 437 missing, and caused tens of billions of dollars in damage, the State Flood Control and Drought Prevention reported.

More heavy rains are expected for the southeast, southwest and northeast parts of the country until tomorrow.

Though China experiences heavy rains every summer, flooding this year is the worst in more than a decade, as the flood-prone Yangtze River Basin saw 15% more rains than in an average year, Duan Yihong, director of the National Meteorological Centre, said in a transcript of an interview posted on the Xinhua website.

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