China Floods Surge, People 'Really Scared'
Chinese troops have joined local residents in northwestern Weinan, heaving stones and laying sandbags, supported by wooden piles, along the Weihe, the largest tributary of the Yellow River.
"It's the first time I've seen anything like this," said local businessman Duan Hailin, adding that all his workers had gone to help fight back the waters.
"People are really scared."
Weinan is about 50 km (30 miles) east of Xian, the home of China's famed terracotta warriors and several km away from the river.
According to local sources, over 30,000 military personnel stationed in Weinan have been keeping vigil, monitoring the vast embankments which have already burst in five places, for further breaches.
About 90,000 houses have collapsed and 230,000 more had suffered damage, one official said.
"There is an urgent need for tents," he added.
Su Chaoying, a manager of the county transportation company in Huaxian, about 30 km east of Weinan, said about 120,000 farmers and villagers had poured into the town seeking refuge.
"Tents can be seen one after another along the streets," he told Reuters by phone, adding that the water's edge was close to town.
"We've put up a temporary dyke made of sand bags in the north of town," he said. "There are also some anti-terrorism forces in the town to maintain stability."
The Huaxian county government confirmed 120,000 people had sought refuge in the town and some schools had closed and been turned into temporary accommodation for soldiers.
The third flood crest was expected to hit the county late yesterday and raise the water flow to 2,600 cubic meters per second. Officials did not give a comparative figure.
Floods and landslips in Shaanxi have killed at least 38 people. About 500,000 people had been evacuated to higher ground since the heavy rains began at the end of August, one official said.