China's Chongqing province braces for the worst flood in decades as the Cuntan Station on the Yangtze River saw its highest water level since 1939 on Thursday morning (Aug 20).

According to the Chongqing Emergency Response Bureau, the water at the Cuntan station was measured at 191.51m, 0.1 meter higher than the devastating flood which left 1.5 million people homeless in July 1981.

More than 8,660 sq km of arable land in the province were flooded. The direct economic loss caused by the floods was about 2 billion yuan (S$394 million).

Its authorities upgraded its flood-control response to Level I on Tuesday, the highest rung in the four-tier emergency response system for floods.

Located in the upper Yangtze watershed, Chongqing has been hit by heavy flooding for the fifth time this year since Monday due to heavy downpours in the upper Yangtze region.

Meanwhile in Chongqing's neighbouring Hubei Province, authorities warned that the Three Gorges reservoir in the province would see the most severe round of floods since it started to hold water in 2003.

According to a forecast by the Changjiang Water Resources Commission of the Ministry of Water Resources, the inbound flow of water is expected to reach more than 74,000 cubic metres per second after continuous heavy rain battered the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

The Yangtze River, China's longest waterway, recorded the fifth flood of the year in its upper reaches on Monday.

The river flows 6,300km from glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through the city, and then to Wuhan, Hubei province, and Nanjing, Jiangsu province, before reaching the East China Sea at Shanghai.

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The Three Gorges project is a multi-functional water-control system, consisting of a 2,309m long and 185m high dam, a five-tier ship lock on the north and south, and 34 turbo-generators with a combined generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts.

The Chinese government has earmarked 460 million yuan (S$90.7 million) for flood relief in the Sichuan, Shaanxi, Gansu, and Chongqing regions, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) said on Wednesday.

The funds would be used for flood control, emergency rescue, and post-disaster reconstruction in the affected areas.

The MEM said it has sent a team of 500 disaster-relief professionals to Sichuan to aid in local flood control and emergency rescue work.

China's State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters on Tuesday raised its emergency response for flood control to the second-highest level, and has sent two ministerial-level task forces to Chongqing and Sichuan to guide and assist local authorities in their flood control efforts.