HARBIN, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Continuous downpours and water discharges from a reservoir along a China-Russia border river may lead to the submerging of an island shared by the two countries, local flood control authorities warned on Wednesday.
In the next 10 days, the water level around Heixiazi Island is expected to submerge the whole land mass, which usually has an average altitude of 37 meters, said an official with the flood control and drought relief headquarters with northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
China and Russia ended a century-long dispute over the island and held a border redrawing ceremony in 2008, declaring each side owned half of the 335-square-km piece of land, which is located at the confluence of the Heilongjiang River, known as the Amur River in Russia, and the Ussuri River.
Heavy rain has hit the area since July, leaving floodwater from tributaries to flow into the Heilongjiang River. The reservoir along the Zeya River, a major tributary of the Heilongjiang River in Russian territory, has discharged floodwater, putting more pressure on flood control in the lower reaches, said the official.
In the river section of Heihe City, precipitation last month reached 205 mm, 47 percent higher than the average in previous years. As of 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the water level of the Heilongjiang River in the city reached 96.66 meters, surpassing the record level recorded in 1998 by 0.6 meters, according to the city's water affairs department.
Thanks to the unusually high water levels, Jiamusi Port along the Songhuajiang River, also a tributary of the Heilongjiang River, has become accessible to ships carrying much bigger loads than ever before. A Russian ship loaded with 3,000 tonnes of timber was able to reach the port on Wednesday morning, said Xu Yanchun, of Jiamusi City's marine affairs bureau.
Previously, such timber loads had to be separated into different ships with a load capacity of 600 tonnes due to the lower water levels.