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July 25, 2012

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Thefts may prevent flood warnings

DRIVERS who use Shanghai's vehicular tunnels could face a hazard as some flood warning equipment has been damaged or stolen, sometimes repeatedly, local officials said.

Zhu Xiaofeng, coordinator of the Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters, told Shanghai Daily yesterday that solar panels used for flood inspections in the city's tunnels in the past two years have been stolen, damaging the flood alert system.

At least five sets of solar-power flood inspectors have been stolen since 2011 with a total value of nearly 70,000 yuan (US$10,962), Zhu said.

"It costs us quite a lot of money to replace the stolen equipment but to the thieves, the value of the components might not be worth so much," Zhu said.

"The stolen panels might not be sold at a high price but will cause huge damage to our alert system."

Equipment was stolen this year in tunnels in Jinshan, Jiading, Yangpu and Minhang districts and the suspects have not yet been found, the official said.

"All we can do is to fix or replace the damaged ones and call the police," Zhu said.

In the tunnel of Jungong Road and Yixian Road, equipment was stolen in May 2011 and again this June, according to the headquarters.

"The theft usually happened near or out of Outer Ring Road where the population is not very dense," Zhu said.

Shanghai has established a total of 157 flood monitoring spots across the city, of which 125 are at tunnels where floods may easily accumulate, according to the Shanghai Water Authority.

Once rain accumulation reaches 20 to 30 centimeters, police are alerted to decide whether to close the tunnel.

But damage can cause the alert system in the tunnels to fail, leading to possibly serious consequences in downpours, Zhu said.


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