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Relief Work
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Relief Work
UPDATED: May 22, 2008  
'Quake Lakes' on China River to be Fixed; Thousands Evacuated

Water resources officials working in China's quake-stricken areas said Wednesday they have made plans to repair damage to a river that threatens to burst.

The upper stream of the Qianjiang River near Beichuan County was damaged in the May 12 earthquake, forming "quake lakes" as water was shoved from its bed by rock and mud slides sent off by the earthquakes.

On Saturday, thousands of people were evacuated from Beichuan as officials warned of flood risks.

Officials from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, the Hydro-power Plant Branch of the Armed Police and Sichuan provincial officials discussed plans to address the risks in an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Jiang Jianjun, a Ministry of Water Resources official, said a general plan was being drawn for the treatment of all the quake-formed lakes.

Blasting or digging of sluices would be carried out to discharge flood for big such lakes after residents were evacuated safely, according to the plan.

Small quake lakes would be monitored around-the-clock to assess their flood risks.

Light-weight cranes, bulldozers and trucks would be brought in first by helicopter to dig sluices on the embankment, said Zhang Jian, chief of the water resources brigade of the disaster relief headquarters of the Mianyang City, which administers Beichuan.

But before that can happen, a parking apron must be built on the river embankment so helicopters can land, said Zhang.

"All of the roads have been destroyed, and it's not possible at this stage to get the equipment in by road," he added.

Zhang said the lake is stable now but repairs should be done quickly due to imminent danger. "The risks increase by every meter that the water level rises. Downpours last night raised the water level by 3.7 meters."

Further, workers must disinfect the county before work begins on the embankment, where animal carcasses were seen on Wednesday.

Zhu Bing, deputy head of the provincial water resources department, told a news conference on Wednesday that there are about 33 such quake lakes in nine counties in Sichuan.

(Xinhua News Agency May 21, 2008)

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