Floods swamp key Chinese oil field, threaten major cities

HARBIN, China (AP) — Rivers raging from weeks of rain engulfed parts of China’s largest oil field Thursday and smothered farming villages outside a key industrial center.
Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians rushed sandbags to plug leaky dikes — already piled 6 feet high with the dirt-filled sacks — to keep the Songhua River from flooding Harbin, capital of northeast Heilongjiang province.
Surging waters in the northeast have compounded the misery of China’s worst flood season in at least 40 years. Much of the Yangtze River in central China has stood above the emergency stage for three weeks or longer, waterlogging and weakening levees.
Flooding has killed more than 2,000 people nationwide, left millions homeless and caused $24 billion in economic losses. Those tallies were expected to grow.
In the northeast, around the Daqing oil field, the Nen River overwhelmed dikes this week, forcing more than 100,000 people living up to 25 miles south of Xingzhan town to flee, the official China Daily said. A railway line needed to bring in relief supplies was destroyed Wednesday.
More than 1,200 wells at Daqing — which has 25,000 wells producing more than a third of the nation’s oil — were submerged, and 527 others stopped pumping altogether, the People’s Daily said.